Friday, June 2

Daily WHUFC News -

Slaven Bilic encourages youngsters to make West Ham United breakthrough

Slaven Bilic says a host of West Ham United youngsters are on his radar and challenged them to make a first team breakthrough next season. The Academy of Football production line has continued to roll in recent seasons, with eleven graduates making their senior debuts for the Hammers since Bilic took charge in the summer of 2015.

A number of those debutants, most notably Josh Cullen, Reece Burke and Toni Martinez, have gone out and impressed on loan in the English Football League, while Declan Rice captained the Hammers' U23s to promotion and made his Premier League debut. Now, the manager encouraged them to take the next step and challenge for Premier League minutes in 2017/18.

"Josh Cullen had a fantastic season at Bradford," Bilic began. "Reece Burke went to Wigan but unfortunately he got injured. Unfortunately, Reece Oxford, who is a fantastic talent, it was our aim for him to go on loan in the Championship and he went to Reading but unfortunately he didn't play enough. "On top of that we have two fantastic talents who are younger than them in Domingos Quina and Declan Rice, who are doing really good."

Midfielder Cullen carried an armful of trophies home from Bradford City's awards night and inspired the Bantams to the League One Play-Off final, while he also cemented his place in the Republic of Ireland U21 team. Fellow countryman Rice captained West Ham's U23s to Premier League 2 promotion before being handed his Premier League bow at Burnley and called-up to the Ireland senior squad last month – all of this at the tender age of 18.

Spanish striker Martinez enjoyed a prolific first season in English football after arriving from Valencia. The teenager scored 14 goals in 14 U23 matches for the Hammers, while also scoring in Emirates FA Cup ties against Newcastle United and Middlesbrough for loan club Oxford United.

Burke, meanwhile, enhanced his reputation during his ten Championship appearances for Wigan before suffering a niggling hip problem. Marcus Browne's also spent time with the Latics, while Reece Oxford appeared for Reading and Norway winger Martin Samuelsen turned out for Blackburn Rovers and Peterborough United.

Exciting Portuguese winger Quina, who made his first-team debut in the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds last summer and was named on the Premier League bench a number of times, is another whose potential is without question. All have trained regularly with the first-team squad and Bilic believes they have the potential to make their mark at the highest level. "For me, they all have a future, although we have three centre-backs, so it's going to be hard for them all to knock on the door and play for West Ham very, very soon," the manager confirmed. "There are three of them. "It's up to them. They've been training with us and now it's about time for them to play."

Dan Kemp honoured after England debut

Winger Dan Kemp made his international debut in England U20s 1-0 win over Angola at the Toulon Tournament on Monday
Kemp called the experience "an unbelievable experience and honour"
He hopes to be involved in England's second group match against Cuba on Thursday evening

West Ham winger Dan Kemp said making his international debut was "an unbelievable experience and an honour" and hopes to feature in England U20s second match at the Toulon Tournament. The young star played 65 minutes as England beat Angola 1-0 in their opening Group A fixture on Sunday and the Young Lions face Cuba on Thursday knowing that a victory could see them through to the semi-finals. The appearance was another moment to cherish in a landmark season for Kemp and he spoke of his excitement at pulling on the famous Three Lions jersey. "It was an unbelievable experience and an honour to make my international debut," said Kemp. "It's without doubt the best moment of my career so far. "Before the game, I was excited and nervous but I couldn't wait to put the shirt on and play. When the national anthem was playing and I was singing was when it felt real and exciting and when I felt proud that my hard work so far has all been worth it. During the game I felt relaxed and just tried to enjoy the occasion and do the best for the team. "To start the tournament with a win was massively important for us and all the boys performed well to the challenges that Angola presented. The most important thing was that we got the three points."

Kemp joined West Ham at the age of 16 after spending the rest of his youth career at Chelsea. With much of the England squad in Toulon featuring Blues' players, Kemp has had no issues settling in. It was an unbelievable experience and an honour to make my international debut. It's without doubt the best moment of my career so far. "The boys have been great with me," he observed. "I know about six or seven of them from playing with them over the years for Chelsea and even now when I play against them for West Ham. "They have been great with me and I have got to know some of the other boys really well. It was important for us all to get to know each other quickly to make us stand the best chance of knowing each other on the pitch. This year's crop of England youngsters are aiming to emulate the squad from last season which managed to win the Toulon Tournament overall. The Young Lions take on Cuba on Thursday with kick-off at 6.30pm BST and Kemp believes the team will head into their second group game full of confidence. "To start the tournament with a win is the best way obviously. We feel confident now that we can beat anyone and that is what we're trying to do. Cuba will be a tough game and a game we want to win again to give us the best chance of getting through to the semi-finals. All the boys are looking forward to the game."

Reece Oxford and Nathan Trott earn England call-ups

Reece Oxford and Nathan Trott have both been called up to the England U19s squad for the upcoming UEFA European Championships in Georgia.
Both will join up with Keith Downing's squad next week when they head to Murcia, Spain for a six-day training camp. The team will then return to St. George's Park before flying out to Tbilisi, Georgia for the Euros, which begin on July 2.

Oxford is hugely experienced on the international stage and could captain the side in Georgia, whereas Trott will be hoping to make his first appearance in a Three Lions jersey. The 18-year-old stopper was called-up to the squad for the three Elite Round qualifiers in March, but had to watch from the sidelines. He'll be pushing for a starting spot in the first group fixture against Bulgaria on Monday 3 July. The Young Lions they face the Netherlands three days laters before rounding of their Group B campaign against Germany on Sunday 9 July.

West Ham United's band of internationals are set for a busy June.

Eight Hammers have been called up for senior friendly matches, the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, while four youngsters are also on duty at age-group level.

Jose Fonte has the busiest month, with Portugal preparing for the Confederations Cup by hosting Cyprus in Coimbra on Saturday 3 June, before travelling to Latvia for a World Cup qualifier on Friday 9 June. The UEFA Euro 2016 winner then heads for Russia, where Portugal will take on Mexico, Russia and New Zealand in Confederations Cup Group A on 18, 21 and 24 June respectively.

This month's slate of international fixtures kicks-off on Thursday evening, when Edimilson Fernandes' Switzerland host Belarus for a friendly in Neuchatel. The 21-year-old will hope to earn his second cap after making his debut in the FIFA World Cup qualifying win over the Faroe Islands in November. Switerland then travel to Torshavn to face the same opposition in the reverse qualifier on 9 June.

Kemp could also make his second appearance at international level when an England U20 side take on Cuba in their second group-stage fixture at the Toulon Tournament in France on Thursday evening. The Academy winger made his debut as England beat Angola 1-0 on Monday and you can read the teenager's reaction here. The Young Lions tackle Japan in their final Group A fixture on Sunday 4 June.

Sticking with England, Nathan Trott and Reece Oxford have been included in the U19 squad for a training camp to be held in Spain ahead of this summer's UEFA European U19 Championship finals in Georgia. The Young Lions will head to Murcia for six days before returning to St George's Park to make final preparations for the tournament, which kicks-off in Tbilisi on 2 July. England face Bulgaria the following day in their Group B opener, followed by ties with the Netherlands on 6 July and Germany on 9 July.

Heading back to senior level, Darren Randolph's Republic of Ireland face Mexico in New Jersey on Thursday evening before returning to Dublin for a second friendly with Uruguay on Sunday, followed by a World Cup qualifier with Austria at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday 11 June.

Winger Robert Snodgrass will need no extra motivation when Scotland host England in a World Cup qualifier at Glasgow's Hampden Park on Saturday 10 June.

Havard Nordtveit and Norway have two games to play, with a must-win World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic in Oslo on Saturday 10 June, followed by a prestige friendly with neighbours Sweden at Ullevaal Stadium on Tuesday 13 June. Nordtveit's fellow countryman Martin Samuelsen is in the Norway U21 squad for a European U21 Championship qualifier with Kosovo in Drammen on Monday 12 June.

Farther afield, Andre Ayew's Ghana host Ethiopia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Kumasi on 11 June before travelling to North America to take on Mexico and the United States on 29 June and 1 July respectively.

Sofiane Feghouli will hope to return to Algeria duty when new manager Lucas Alcaraz takes charge for friendly internationals with Guinea on 6 June and Togo on 13 June in Blida.

Last but by no means least, Manuel Lanzini will surely make his Argentina debut when the South Americans tackle old rivals Brazil in Melbourne on 9 June, if not their friendly with Singapore four days later.

2016/17: In numbers

West Ham United finished the 2016/17 Premier League strongly, with just one defeat in their final seven matches.

Those are just two of the numbers which matter when it comes to looking back over a ten-month, 46-match, four-competition campaign that had ups and downs galore!

Here, we look back at the Club's first season at London Stadium in numbers, from the men who made a case for the defence to those who regularly went on the attack.

1,082,464 fans bought tickets for Premier League matches at London Stadium in 2016/17 – an average of 56,972 per game
The Hammers scored 28 Premier League goals away from home – the highest of any club outside the top six
Of West Ham United's 12 clean sheets, ten were kept at London Stadium
The Claret and Blue Army travelled a total of 5,654 miles to cheer on their team
Slaven Bilic used 29 different players in the Premier League – two more than he utilised in top-flight matches in the final season at the Boleyn Ground
The Hammers used 33 players in total – Reece Burke, Reece Oxford, Marcus Browne and Domingos Quina features in the UEFA Europa League
Slaven Bilic handed 15 players their debuts, including three Academy graduates
Fifteen different players scored 56 goals in all competition – 29 were scored from open play, 17 from set pieces, five from penalties, four from counter attacks and one own-goal!
Of those 56 goals, 27 were right-foot shots, 14 were left-foot shots, 14 were headers and one was an own goal!
No Hammer played more minutes than Cheikhou Kouyate's 3,167 in all competitions or 2,728 in the Premier League
Michail Antonio, Cheikhou Kouyate, Winston Reid each started 36 matches in league and cup
Manuel Lanzini who made the most appearances all in, with 39 in all competitions
Defensively, Winston Reid led the way in blocks (56), clearances (244) and interceptions (81)
Cheikhou Kouyate totalled 99 tackles – nine more than Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang
Offensively, Michail Antonio led the way in goals scored (nine) and shots (77)
Assist-wise, it was Dimitri Payet who led the way with six, three more than five other players
Nobody won more aerial battles in the Premier League on average than Andy Carroll's 9.1 per game


Hello Hammers. Here is today's lunchtime round up.

West Ham United have announced a record number of season ticket renewals ahead of their second season at the London Stadium. (Evening Standard)

This is very good to see from the fans. Its good to see that despite the problems during last season, the fans have stuck at it and are continuing to pay money to support the team. I'm really pleased to see this.

Slaven Bilic has promised West Ham fans that better days lie ahead, following a poor 2016/17 season. (HITC)

Slaven Bilic says that he believes West Ham will benefit a lot from their first season at the London Stadium. (Evening Standard)

I agree with Slaven on both of these points. Better times are ahead for this club, but we need to sign some good players to progress as a team. If we do that, then I am sure we will see progress next season. As for the stadium, it cannot be used as an excuse for the players anymore. We have been there a year and they should be used to it now. I do believe that we will be better next season and will continue to push on from there.

West Ham target Kelechi Iheanacho wishes to remain in England, should the striker leave Manchester City this summer. (Vital Football)

This is a huge boost to our chances of signing him. I hope that we can get this deal done relatively quickly once he returns from international duty, because I think he would be an excellent signing.

West Ham are keen to sign Michy Batshuayi, who is open to leaving Chelsea this summer. (The Sun)

I hope we sign Batshuayi before we sign anyone else this summer. I have wanted him to join for ages now, and if we can get him on loan with a view to buy him, then I would be very happy with that.

West Ham are leading Everton in the race to sign want-away Arsenal striker Lucas Perez. (Express)

For me, he has not played enough football this season. Yes he has looked good when he has played, but Arsenal will likely want a big fee for him and I do not think he would be value for money.

Darren Randolph happy with Hammers acclaim

Darren Randolph is hoping the memory of winning West Ham United's Save of the Season award will inspire him while on international duty.
The Hammers and Republic of Ireland No1 caught the trophy for his outstanding fingertip stop to deny Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson in the 2-2 Premier League draw at Anfield in December. The save was one of a number made by Randolph last season, including impressive stops from Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, Burnley's Scott Arfield, Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez and Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier.

It was the wonderful full-length effort to deny Henderson which won Randolph acclaim, and he would love to repeat the trick in Ireland's friendly international with Mexico, which will take place in New Jersey on Thursday evening.

"It's always nice to get a pat on the back for your hard work throughout the season and nice to get that recognition," he confirmed. "I don't remember too much before the actual shot. I remember him hitting the shot and it kind of went in slow motion, then I thought 'Uh-oh!', then I moved my feet and kind of just threw myself and I managed to get there and tip it over the bar.

"I didn't realise how good a save it was until I watched it back, because you never get to see the replays on the big screens. I didn't realise it was so far in the corner at the time, I thought it was more central.

"Sometimes when you back you think 'That wasn't as good as I thought' and other times you think 'It was better than I thought' and that was definitely in the latter category.

"There were a few against Manchester United and another one against Tottenham at White Hart Lane that I liked, but I'd say the Henderson one was probably top of the list."

Randolph is one of two goalkeepers in the Ireland squad for the trip to the United States, with Bradford City's Colin Doyle also present.

Following the Mexico fixture, the Boys in Green return to Dublin to host Uruguay in a friendly on Sunday 4 June, before tackling Austria in an important FIFA World Cup European Group D qualifier at the Aviva Stadium a week later.

Victory over Austria would complete a decent campaign for the 30-year-old, who appeared 27 times in all competitions for the Hammers.

"We have three games in the summer – two friendlies and one qualifier against Austria," he confirmed. "I think we're joint-top of the group now and there's still plenty more football to be played, so let's get a win against Austria and go top of the group and keep on course to go to the World Cup in Russia next summer.

"It was a good season for me. Obviously I got in the team and played 27 games, I think it was, then unfortunately got taken out of the team, but that's football.

"I like to think that, when I've played, I've contributed to the team and helped us pick up points, so on the whole, for myself it's been a good season."

West Ham announce record number of season ticket renewals ahead of second campaign at London Stadium
Evening Standard

West Ham have announced a record number of season ticket renewals for the 2017-18 season. More than 90% of the club's 52,000 season ticket holders have opted to renew, while supporters on the waiting list have registered their desire to purchase the remaining seats.
The Hammers moved into the London Stadium last year and are set to boast the highest number of season ticket holders of any club in the capital, with Arsenal their closest challengers, for the second season running.
Co-chairman David Sullivan is delighted to have received such a positive response and believes the club's fans have proved they deserved to watch football on a bigger stage than the Boleyn Ground. Sullivan said: "Once again, our supporters have shown magnificent commitment and devotion to West Ham United. "When we took the decision to move our football club to London Stadium, we did so with the belief and confidence that our fanbase was deserving of a bigger and better stage. "The season ticket renewal figure for next season only serves to emphasise that fact, but I am still amazed and overwhelmed by the loyalty and dedication of our supporters."
Despite such a widespread appetite to see West Ham in action, Slaven Bilic's side endured a difficult season on the pitch. The Hammers flirted with relegation before eventually finishing 11th with a total of 45 points. Bilic is keen to add to his squad, having already signed Pablo Zabaleta, in an attempt to climb the table and Sullivan has vowed to reward fans for their unwavering support. He added: "They have followed us through thick and thin, and shown tremendous faith throughout the first season at our new home. "Our focus now is to do everything we can to reward that faith with success on the pitch next season."

Dusan Tadic, Kelechi Iheanacho and Michy Batshuayi… the transfer business West Ham will look to complete this summer
Evening Standard

West Ham fans should not anticipate droves of arrivals but they will be expecting a considerable upgrade on last season's business.
Slaven Bilic has already promised that quality rather than quantity will be the mantra, with pace a priority. That criteria was not top of the agenda when West Ham did some early close-season business with the signing, on a free transfer, of Pablo Zabaleta from City but what the 32-year-old loses in the sprinting stakes, he will more than make up in character and leadership. West Ham's major expenditure could be a £20m-plus deal to take striker Kelechi Iheanacho, again from City, but there is a way to go before this one is done. ​Michy Batshuayi could be the next arrival, following his admission that he may leave Chelsea on loan to gain more game time.
Southampton's Serbian winger Dusan Tadic is another who could join which could mean Robert Snodgrass, only signed from Hull in January, could make an early exit. The goalkeeper situation also remains unclear despite West Ham activating an option on Adrian's contract which will keep the Spaniard at the club for a further two years. Both Adrian and Darren Randolph were dropped by Bilic last season.

Former Blackburn and West Ham striker Benni McCarthy forced to deny reports of his death
A fabricated report suggested the Porto striker had died after a car crash in London but he has denied the claims
The Mirror
18:53, 1 JUN 2017UPDATED19:51, 1 JUN 2017

Reports of former Premier League striker Benni McCarthy's death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, McCarthy has been forced to deny them. Reports emerged on Wednesday suggesting McCarthy had been involved in a car crash in London. The report appeared to come from a fake news outlet but the ex-Blackburn and West Ham striker took to social media to slam the claims. "Guys please dont believe this news thats going around about me being found dead in London! its totally #FakeNews!!!", he posted on Facebook. "I am very much alive! Thank you for all the messages of concern! People that create this fake news have no respect and are messing with people's lives & emotions! McCarthy also confirmed he will be in Cardiff for this weekend's Champions League final.
The South African joined Blackburn from Porto in 2006 and spent three seasons at Ewood Park before a brief spell with West Ham.

Odds on West Ham to finish in the top four slashed after links with Iheanacho and Batshuayi
The Hammers are expected to be busy in the transfer market this summer
Football London
14:30, 1 JUN 2017

With the Premier League season finished for another year, football fans across the country are already counting down the days until the new campaign gets underway in August. West Ham have already started planning ahead of next season with Pablo Zabaleta arriving at the London Stadium on a free transfer from Manchester City. It promises to be a big season in east London, especially with the club reportedly close to signing Kelechi Iheanacho from City. Well, ahead of the new season, we have decided to gather all the odds for fans wanting a flutter on their beloved club. If you're confident that Slaven Bilic's side can lift the Premier League title, then you could be in for a large sum of money. The Hammers, who are 500/1 with most bookmakers, are surprisingly priced by SkyBet at 150/1 to lift the title for the first time. However, if you're planning on backing the team, Black Type are the company to go with as they have the team at a whopping 1000/1 to cause a major upset.

A title-winning campaign would be a big shock, especially as the Hammers looked like they could get dragged into relegation trouble last season. You can get odds of 10/1 with SkyBet that the team will suffer relegation for the first time since 2011, while Black Type offer odds of 5/1. SkyBet also offer odds of 1/25 that Bilic will guide his team to Premier League safety. The Hammers narrowly missed out on a top-half finish last season and SkyBet have the team at 13/8 that they jump back into the top 10.
However, it seems a bottom half finish is more likely with odds of 4/9 on offer. West Ham's co-owners have big ambitions for the club and they will be hoping that Bilic can guide his side to a European finish. SkyBet have the Hammers at 28/1 to finish in the top four, while William Hill have the team at 66/1 to cause a major shock and qualify for the Champions League. Finally, with Iheanacho reportedly due to arrive at the club, the Nigerian is 40/1 with BetStars to finish top scorer in the Premier League, with Andy Carroll priced at 66/1.

West Ham battle Galatasaray for signing of Juventus midfielder
Tom Seymour

Both West Ham and Southampton are competing with Galatasaray to sign Juventus star Kwadwo Asamoah. Reports from Italy claim that West Ham United and Southampton are keen on bringing Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah to the Premier League. According to Calciomercato the English duo are ready to put in a bid for the 28-year-old, but face stiff competition from Galatasaray. An update from the same publication claims that Gala lead the way currently and are readying a £3.35m bid for Asamoah - whose contract expires at the end of next season. The fact the Ghana international is entering the final year of his current deal probably has something to do with the fact that he is available for such a bargain price. Asamoah has been with Juve since 2012, but has struggled with injury which has limited his game time, and he even asked to be excused from international duty after the 2014 World Cup to concentrate on his club career.

The former Udinese man - who has the ability to play at left-back or in central midfield - has certainly rebuilt his reputation, making 24 appearances in 2016/17 for the Old Lady as they won a sixth successive Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and are also in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. However, with his time in Turin seemingly coming to an end could either Southampton or West Ham be on course to sign a bargain?

West Ham target Leicester City striker but face competition from West Brom
The Hammers are reportedly interested in the Algerian forward
Football London
11:54, 1 JUN 2017UPDATED12:03, 1 JUN 2017

West Ham are reportedly keen on a deal for Leicester City striker Islam Slimani. The Algerian striker moved to the former champions for £29m from Sporting Lisbon last summer, but has enjoyed a disappointing debut season in England, scoring eight goals in 29 appearances.
According to Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha several Premier League clubs, including West Brom and West Ham, are interested in signing the striker. Andy Carroll's ongoing fitness problems and the departure of Jonathan Calleri means the Hammers need to add fire power to their squad and Slimani has been discussed as an option alongside the likes of Michy Batshuayi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Daniel Sturridge. However, Slaven Bilic's side could face big competition for Slimani's signature in the shape of his former side Sporting.
The striker has been linked with a return to the Alvalade Stadium, as the Portuguese side prepare for the potential exit of top scorer Bas Dost. Dost has scored a total of 34 goals in just 31 appearances this season and is being linked with a big-money move away from Sporting, with interest in China.


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