West Ham: Burke puts Forest nightmare behind him

By Jack Pinnock on August 28, 2014 7:40 AM |

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When competitions like the Capital One Cup come around, youngsters and academy players have the perfect opportunity to impress.

But for West Ham defender Reece Burke it also offered the chance to finally put to bed a nightmare debut disaster against Nottingham Forest.

The 17-year-old was part of the side humiliated in front of the TV cameras in a 5-0 defeat by Forest in the FA Cup last season.

However, Tuesday's Sheffield United match, in which he got an assist, as well as a goal in a friendly at home to Sampdoria in pre-season, has shown what he is really capable of.

"I needed to get the experience of a big game," said Burke after the match against the Blades. "I played 120 minutes out there, so it is a great experience, but it is just a shame that we have lost the match on penalties.

"After the Forest game we came away feeling a bit down as the game didn't go my way. Not just for me but a few other boys as well. But as you can see I have bounced back, I have got in Sam's good books, worked hard in training and he has given me a start today, which I have to thank him for.

"I think coming on against Sampdoria and scoring on our home ground has boosted my confidence. Obviously just to be in and around the first team as a youngster and a second year scholar, being with the first team, is where I want to be."

Burke would have got on the scoresheet himself, had it not been for a stellar performance from Sheffield United goalkeeper Mark Howard.

And he said it was a pleasure playing alongside Winston Reid and thanked Allardyce for giving him his chance to shine.

"From a corner it came in and come off my thigh," he said. "I just thought I would try and get a swing on it.

"It is a shame it didn't go in, because if it had - happy days.

"But playing with Winston is just great. He has made as many appearances as anyone and he has international experience as well. Playing with him has to help me in the long term as well.

"Sam didn't say much before the game. He just told me their strengths and weaknesses. I took a few clips off their forwards, learnt, and then took it from there.

"I think the game should have been won in the first half. We had loads of chances which should have put the game to bed, but to lose on penalties is one of the worst ways you can go out. It has been a great experience to come here and hopefully there is much more to come."

It wasn't just Burke who had the opportunity to step up. Left back Dan Potts, an England under-20 international, also looked comfortable in his full back position. Diego Poyet, a summer arrival from Championship outfit Charlton Athletic, slotted in the holding role nicely.

But now Sam Allardyce's side have been dumped out of the Capital One Cup, it will be extremely difficult for youngsters like Burke and Potts to establish themselves as first team regulars, despite their unquestionable promising talent.