By Joe Ellis

17th Sep, 2022 | 4:42pm

West Ham United should regret Aji Alese sale after Sunderland star display

West Ham United had a desperate transfer window over the summer as they searched high and low to find a central defender to add to their squad.

They thought Nayef Aguerd was the answer, and he still might be, but he got injured early on in pre-season which left David Moyes back at square one again.

He eventually managed to bring in Thilo Kehrer from Paris Saint-Germain but not before Ben Johnson was forced to start the season in the centre of defence rather than in his natural right-back position.

If only there was a ready-made defender in the academy who could have been brought up to the senior team to help cover the injury-stricken squad.

There was one in the form of Aji Alese who had been captaining the Under-23s side all season but he was sold much earlier in the summer to Championship outfit Sunderland and he is already making his mark.

The Black Cats have started their return to the second tier impressively and on Saturday, Alese got in on the act as he scored his first goal for the club away at Watford.

Tony Mowbray has come into the group at the Stadium of Light and he has really taken to Alese which makes you wonder why Moyes never gave him the opportunity he deserved.

Last season, he was choosing to play full-backs in a back three than promote a youngster to be given a chance and that said everything about the manager’s attitude.

Those in the academy right now should be worried that they aren’t going to be given a chance to shine having seen Sonny Perkins leave for Leeds United and already win the Premier League 2 player of the month award.

West Ham should be the academy of football but with Alese and others leaving, that tag is under serious threat.