West Ham’s starting midfield is already built and just needs reasonable depth, not investment, to improve which is why two academy graduates should be looked at.
The two players West Ham currently has control of are Josh Cullen and Conor Coventry, two central midfielders who fit the need of the current team perfectly. With Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek destined to be paired up for the foreseeable future, either player could be used as their backup this season.
For Josh Cullen, he’s done everything you could ask a player to do. When in the academy he rose to U23 team captain, he graduated to the loan process where he’s played for Brentford, Bolton, and Charlton through the lower levels of the EFL. With his loan ended at Charlton with their relegation, he deserves a chance to make this team.
It was a slap in the face when Carlos Sanchez was added to Pellegrini’s team over Cullen. This decision was followed up with Cullen’s loan away to Charlton where he saw them promoted. He returned to Lee Bowyer’s team this season and blew him away with his commitment and consistent performance.
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Now 24, Cullen needs to either be integrated into the West Ham team he loves or moved on for the sake of his own career. He is no longer a youngster and up-and-comer but still has his best years ahead of him. He anchored Bowyer’s team this season and when injured for 11 matches, Charlton only picked up six points, they’re worst stretch of the season.
If not Cullen, then why not Conor Coventry? The Irish U21 international plays holding midfield and was superb in West Ham’s U23 undefeated season before earning a loan to Lincoln City in League One in January.
At 20-years-old, Coventry has played 15 matches in the Irish international system already and is destined for a long international career for his country. His poise and patience with the ball are what makes him a stand out player and what attracted interest in him from Championship teams earlier this year.
Having inked a new three-year deal with the club (option for one year added on), Coventry is committed to West Ham, and it would appear the club is to him as well. I do think a loan to a Championship team is on the cards for Coventry which would benefit him more than bench minutes at West Ham.
With funds tight in the lower leagues, a loan of a player like Coventry could be a massive bargaining chip for the Hammers with guaranteed minutes being the returned currency for the Irons.
Either player would be an upgrade over Jack Wilshere and a better replacement than Carlos Sanchez was. I have faith that Moyes will push for penny-pinching in his central midfield positions to strengthen elsewhere and with it the advancement of Cullen and Coventry.