Bilic showed courage in Oxford decision for West Ham win says Jenas

The former midfielder also believes the youngster has proven he is a man to his teammates with his display.

Writing in his column for Yahoo, Jermaine Jenas has praised Slaven Bilic for his courage in starting Reece Oxford against Arsenal.

The 16-year-old was handed a surprise start by Bilic in Sunday’s game against the Gunners, becoming their youngest ever Premier League appearance holder and the second youngest in the history of the division.

Despite his young age he put in a solid display in the defensive midfield role against a much more experienced Arsenal midfield, earning rave reviews for his performance.

Jenas though, has praise Bilic for his bravery to make the decision, saying if it had gone wrong the blame would have been firmly aimed at him.

“Slaven Bilic showed impressive courage to pick Oxford, instead of the easy option like Kevin Nolan,” wrote in his Yahoo column.

“If the plan failed it would fall on the manager's head. In a climate where most top clubs are more comfortable buying a player than bringing one through the ranks, youngsters such as Oxford are reliant on the bravery of their managers.”

Oxford has shown his team mates he is a man 

Jenas knows better than most about the pressure that can be put on a young players shoulders, having himself been made captain of Nottingham Forest at 17 and being handed his Newcastle United debut at just 18.

After such a fine display against Arsenal, many are now tipping the youngster to have a bright future ahead of him with West Ham, and potentially even on the international stage with England.

Jenas though, has a taken a more sensible approach to his praise, saying he didn’t do extraordinary at the Emirates but has proven to his team mates he’s a man and not a boy with his performance.

“He didn't do anything extraordinary against Arsenal, but the performance was almost more impressive because of his discipline and patience,” he added.

“Beating Arsenal doesn't automatically make him a world beater, but coming through that game makes him stronger. He's proved he can look after himself in the lion's den and shown his team-mates he's a man, not a boy.”

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