Key West Ham coach Terry Westley makes bold claim about Mark Noble's heir apparent

West Ham academy manager Terry Westley

It's been a torrid season for West Ham United but the future is bright if the comments from a key coach are anything to go by.

West Ham United manager Slaven BilicWest Ham United manager Slaven Bilic

The Hammers have endured a torrid second season under Bilic after their record breaking farewell campaign at Upton Park when they finished just four points off the Champions League places.

A 4-0 drubbing in the last home game of the season summed up 2016/17 for the Hammers in one 90 minute showing.

Knocked out of the Europa League, EFL Cup and FA Cup in embarrassing fashion, the East Londoners then lost star player Dimitri Payet after he forced through a return to Marseille.

On top of that as yet none of the club's clutch of promising young players have been used in the first team much to the frustration of supporters proud of the club's Academy roots.

That could change for the season finale at Burnley on Sunday with Declan Rice, the captain of the club's promotion-winning development side, looking set for his first team debut.

And according to the club's Academy director Terry Westley, Rice has a huge future in the game.

“Declan Rice is an immense captain and an immense leader and he’s going to have a huge future in the game, that I am sure about," Westley told the club's official website.

West Ham's Declan RiceWest Ham's Declan Rice

"He is possibly the best player in this league this year. Every single game the opposition talk about him, scouts talk about him, managers ring about taking him on loan; he’s had an absolutely outstanding season and you can tell how tired he was at the end. He gives everything all of the time, he’s a proper captain and a proper leader."

You could be forgiven for thinking Westley is talking about Hammers skipper Mark Noble with some of his comments.

West Ham United's Mark Noble looks dejectedWest Ham United captain Mark Noble

Noble has been criticised for his below par performances this season and fans have been concerned at a lack of graduates progressing through into the first team ranks to eventually fill the homegrown Hammers boots.

But it sounds like not only do West Ham have a top young player on their hands, they have a readymade replacement for the captain who selflessly played on through injury until his side were safe from the threat of relegation this season.

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