Oxford proved this season that he is one of the biggest talents in English football, and West Ham’s head of medical Stijn Vandenbroucke has explained his current situation to the official club website, as he has found himself out of the first-team set-up recently.
The coach said: “Reece Oxford has had some significant development over the last few weeks. We have been working with him to prepare him for the demands of the Premier League. He is obviously a big talent and it is my responsibility to protect him, along with the responsibility of the manager, who is fully on board with how we are managing Reece.”
Oxford started the season in West Ham’s first-team, playing three games in the Europa League, and then starting the Hammers’ opening Premier League game against Arsenal.
It was a composed performance of true talent, as he sat in the defensive midfield role and shielded the West Ham back-line with an experience beyond his years.
He followed that up by starting against Leicester City, and then made a short cameo as a substitute against Liverpool, but since then Oxford has been relegated to the Under-21 side.
Still only 16, he captains the Under-21 side and plays for England’s Under-19 team, and Vandenbroucke has admitted that he has been held back from playing too many senior games to ensure he is protected at his young age.
There are fears that playing too much whilst too young can burn a player out, and Vandenbroucke and his medical team are training him to prepare for the demands of the Premier League so he can be used whenever needed.
There are no doubts about his talents and suitability for the top flight, but there is no need to rush him in for the sake of it. Oxford’s current development path is best for his future, and with more training behind him, it would be no surprise to see the youngster play more and more as the season progresses.