Slaven Bilic explains what must happen to ensure Reece Oxford achieves potential; draws comparisons with Joe Cole

Slaven Bilic has commented on the development of promising West Ham youngster Reece Oxford.

16-year-old West Ham midfielder Reece Oxford burst onto the scene with an outstanding performance against Arsenal last weekend, but his manager, Slaven Bilic is keen to ensure the youngster's early career is handled in the correct manner.

Writing in his regular column for the London Evening Standard, the Croatian head coach was quick to re-assure admirers of the 16-year-old's ability - there are a lot of them - that the club will do everything in their power to ensure he achieves his potential.

While drawing comparisons with former Hammers youngster Joe Cole - who's development Bilic witnessed during his time as a player at Upton Park - the West Ham chief suggested that Oxford's ability shouldn't be ignored, but the situation must be managed carefully.

"Talking about keeping a lid on things, we are going to have to try and manage the situation regarding Reece Oxford, following his terrific Premier League debut for us," wrote Bilic.

"When I was here as a player I remember Joe Cole as a young lad. Joe was too young to train with us but Harry Redknapp told me even then that Sir Alex Ferguson was asking on a daily basis about Joe."

"We can’t expect people to ignore Reece after that display. I am 46 years old but he made an impact on me."

The former Besiktas continued by discussing the measures needed to ensure Oxford's protection, suggesting that he has to be carefully supervised both on and off the pitch to fully assist his development.

"It is natural that some people will go over the top with their reaction, even if Reece himself is totally stable. His environment will change, it is impossible to think otherwise," he said.

"We can’t stop that completely but we have to control it, monitor it - manage it. On the pitch is easier, it is just me, my staff and him. Outside, though, it will be more of a challenge."

"It has happened also to Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and the one player who coped with it the better than anyone - David Beckham. He was a ‘one-off,’ a showbiz personality but someone who was also so hungry to succeed in football."

"For others, however, not only their careers have been ruined but in some cases, their lives."

It is fair to say Oxford showed tremendous promise on his Premier League debut, weighing in with an assured display against an Arsenal side that many had previously tipped to win the top flight title. 

While the signs are positive for the Hammers, the teenager still has a very long way to go in terms of his development. He will be massively reliant on the support and protection offered to him by his club and manager. 

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