Assistant manager Alan Irvine was full of praise for debutants Harrison Ashby and Aji Alese after West Ham United’s 5-1 thrashing of Hull City in the Carabao Cup third round, when speaking to Football London.
While experience made the difference in a comfortable midweek win at the London Stadium – with £40 million striker Sebastian Haller scoring twice and Andriy Yarmolenko rediscovering the golden touch of his early Borussia Dortmund days – a pair of fresh-faced youngsters also seized their chance to impress.
19-year-old Alese would have been forgiven for looking a little overawed – thrust in at the deep end when Issa Diop was ruled out just before kick off.
Yet he looked anything but, in a performance full of confidence and composure.
The teenager deserves huge credit for dealing with the considerable threat of Hull target man Josh Magennis, while the all-action performance of 18-year-old Ashby suggests he too could provide some cover for a problematic right-back spot.
“(Alese and Ashby) were absolutely brilliant, performed at a really high level from start to finish,” said Irvine after a game in which Jack Wilshere and Ben Johnson also impressed in rare starts.
“Absolutely delighted with them but also with how the senior players helped them through because it is really important when the young boys are coming in, two of them in the back four, it’s fantastic that the lads around them like (Darren) Randolph, (Fabian) Balbuena and the boys in front all helped out.
“They deserve credit for that but certainly the young boys do as well, they both played extremely well.”
It wasn’t a perfect night for every West Ham youngster, however.
Manny Longelo came off the bench for his debut but switched off at a crucial moment as Malik Wilks sauntered past him to score Hull’s consolation late on.
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