By Jonty Banks

18th Nov, 2022 | 6:10pm

West Ham United face relentless transfer exodus of academy players

West Ham United are facing a “relentless” uphill battle to keep hold of several academy prospects as they near the end of their contracts, according to Claretandhugh

Conor Coventry and Harrison Ashby are among the youngsters linked with exits from the current regime following limited game time in East London. 

22-year-old Coventry has made just one appearance for the first team this season after being sent on loan to Lincoln, MK Dons and Peterborough in recent years. 

The pair of highly talented youngsters see their contracts expire in June next year, with Ashby reportedly interested in a move to Newcastle as a result.

An anonymous source within the club said that the duo weren’t alone in seeking professional first-team football, saying: “There will be others as none of them are getting any chance to progress. 

“To be honest, you wonder what the point is of having an academy – there’s some good youngsters in there who deserve their chance. 

“It looks a case of play them or lose them.”

Unsurprising 

These comments by the undisclosed source are pretty damning for West Ham and highlight a club unwilling to look to youth when their first team is clearly struggling. 

Players such as Emmanual Longelo, Coventry and Ashby need to be given a platform to prove themselves at the club in competitions such as the EFL Cup or even as a Premier League substitute. 

Considering David Moyes’ side is languishing in 16th in the league and sits just a point above the relegation zone, some young fresh legs could be exactly what the team needs to spring a rise up the table. 

The one youngster who has broken into the first team this season has been Flynn Downes, who has proven himself a viable alternative to Tomas Soucek in The Hammers’ midfield. 

The 23-year-old has started eight games this season and has been impressive, making it even stranger that Moyes is unwilling to dip into their pool of youngsters to find a little inspiration. 

Looking up the league, The Hammers need only look at sides such as Arsenal, who have brought up a number of technically gifted youngsters through their academy, including Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.