West Ham co-owner David Gold urges caution over youngster then backs him to be a legend for club and country

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West Ham United co-owner David Gold has called for calm over Reece Oxford's potential... before backing the 16-year-old to be a legend for club and country.

The Hammers chief has been speaking to ESPNFC about all things West Ham and touched on a number of subjects, including that of the club's record-breaking youngest ever player.

Oxford shot to prominence this season when he became the second youngest player in Premier League history in West Ham's 2-0 win over title hopefuls Arsenal at the Emirates.

It was a stunning debut for Oxford as he kept the likes of Mesut Ozil and Santi Carzola quiet, earning praise from all quarters.

Many questioned the wisdom of throwing the 6ft 5in central defender in at the deep end, particularly in a central midfield role.

But he looked like he had been playing there for 20 years as he became the talk of the opening weekend.

Oxford came back down to earth with a bump when his two errors led to both goals as Leicester City inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Slaven Bilic's side in the next game.

He did not let it affect him, though, and has looked back to his assured self when entering the fray as a substitute since, particularly as the Hammers secured a historic 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield last time out.

The likes of Rio Ferdinand, another product of West Ham's famous Academy and a player Oxford has been likened to, has urged caution over the 16-year-old, pleading with media and fans to let him find his way in the game.

'I don't want to add to the talk surrounding him... but he can be a legend'

And while Gold conceded the player must be protected from the hype, he could barley contain his enthusiasm, proceeding to do the exact opposite by tipping him to become a 'legend'.

"He is an accomplished young man who has a fantastic opportunity to be a legend at West Ham," Gold told espnfc.co.uk.

"I use that word carefully because we don't want to add to the talk that is surrounding him, but he is a very level headed young man and you can hardly believe he is still only 16.

"He is also charming. Are we looking at a centre-back who could play for England for 10 years and break a few records? Yes, I think we are."

Debate over what is best for his development

Since his performance against Leicester, where he was withdrawn at half-time, many supporters feel he may benefit from a spell out on loan.

It was good enough for some of the other stars of West Ham's production line over the years, with Ferdinand himself cutting his teeth at Bournemouth before returning to establish himself in the Hammers first team under Harry Redknapp.

The player is clearly talented enough, and as Gold says mature enough to cope, though. And more importantly he appears to be very much part of Bilic's first team plans this season.

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