Bilic clarifies situation surrounding Reece Oxford, explains 'long-term plan'

Slaven Bilic - West Ham Vs Birkrikara

Slaven Bilic says he needs Reece Oxford in his first team.

West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic has told BBC Sport that Reece Oxford won't be allowed to join up with the England Under-17's for their World Cup campaign.

England kick off their Under-17 World Cup tournament with a game against Guinea in Coquimbo, Chile, with that game just under two weeks away.

The likes of Stephy Mavididi (Arsenal), Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Aston Villa) and Kaziah Sterling (Tottenham) are all set to make the trip over to Chile for the competition, but one player who seemingly won't be taking part is West Ham's Reece Oxford.

The centre back-turned-defensive midfielder, 16, hit the headlines on the opening weekend of the season, as he played a starring role in West Ham's 2-0 away win over Arsenal.

Since then, the teenager has played just 53 minutes of Premier League action, with manager Bilic easing the prospect into regular first team football at Upton Park.

Now though, Bilic has told BBC Sport that Oxford won't be allowed to play at the Under-17 World Cup - as he is needed in the West Ham squad, with a 'long-term plan' in place to maintain his fitness.

"Reece is an exceptional talent that we have to nurture. And we need him in the first team," said Bilic. "We have made a long-term plan for him to not to affect his body and his development. If we let him go for one and a half months or whatever, it's no good."

"We are trying to sort that situation out with the Football Association and with Reece. My opinion is that if he plays, he should play for the Under-21s at least," he added.

Many critics believe that England's young talent should spent more time in the international setup to build familiarity with their team-mate, with the intention of aiding the future Three Lions teams.

Yet, West Ham are adamant that Oxford needs to remain in East London rather than travel out to Chile - something that may send them on a collision course with The FA.

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