Cottee: West Ham should use the Europa League to play these three youngsters

West Ham Upton Park

West Ham should use the Europa League to bed in academy players.

The Hammers start their season at the beginning of July due to Europa League commitments, and Tony Cottee has told London24 that he wants to see the club play young academy talents in the competition.

The 150-goal former striker said: “The problem is that it does put a strain on the squad if you are playing every Thursday and Sunday and unfortunately we haven’t got a squad good enough to compete in the Europa League.

“I see it as an opportunity to blood some of the youngsters like Elliot Lee, Reece Burke and Reece Oxford. They can all get game time, but we do need to add other players.”

Burke has already started becoming something of a first-team player for the Hammers, with the 18-year-old defender appearing in five consecutive Premier League games at the end of last season.

He did much to impress, and is certain to be a part of the first-team next term, likely for domestic action, as well as the Europa League.

Elliot Lee, a striker, also appeared last season in the final game of the campaign, and will be looking to break into the first-team more consistently at the age of 20.

Reece Oxford, still only 16, is considered the best talent in the Hammers academy, and the chance for him to play competitive football next term will come most likely in Europe.

With the first qualifying rounds bringing a lack of quality opposition, the pressure is unlikely to be too high on the players, and the early fixtures will be great chance for the new West Ham manager to come to terms with his squad, and the young talents hoping to make their mark next term.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch