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Zabaleta hails the Diangana show

Filed: Monday, 5th November 2018
By: Staff Writer

Pablo Zabaleta says that he wants to help ensure Grady Diangana keeps his feet on the ground, following two very impressive starts for Manuel Pellegrini's first team.

The young Academy graduate made his second start for the first team squad against Burnley on Saturday and produced a thrilling performance full of enterprise and attacking intent.

And according to the veteran full back, it's important that both he and his fellow team mates help the youngster remain full grounded, despite all the praise currently being directed his way.

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"When the opportunity comes, you need to prove to the manager that youíre good enough to play for the first team and then keep your place in the starting XI," said Zabaleta, speaking on West Ham's website. "Heís doing it and I hope he continues in that way.

"I want to make sure he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps working and keeps improving - because we need him now. We need to look after him and he will attract all the attention from the media, fans and all of us.

"As with all young players, we need to make sure we give him confidence. Iím playing behind him so Iím trying to keep talking to him all the time, telling him 'no worries, next time' if he loses the ball.

"He's looking very dangerous, especially when he is in one-on-one situations. Heís not scared and he shows personality to ask for the ball and to take people on. Going forward he will always produce something, whether it be a good pass or a dribble.

"Heís one of the only few players who can play wide and bring us a lot of things, so letís not put pressure on him and compare him with someone."

Meanwhile Diangana himself is just taking things in his stride, although he is delighted that all his hard work and endeavour are finally paying off.

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"One thing Iíve been working on is to be robust and to keep going in every training session so I would have the same energy in every game," added the 20-year-old winger.

"It is extremely different from Under-23 football. The players are much quicker and stronger, so you have to be cleverer and the desire to want to win and to want to get the ball is much higher.

"Getting the three points [against Burnley on Saturday] and seeing how much it meant to the players and the fans was one of the best feelings Iíve felt in a long time.

"When they got it back to 2-2 I was thinking 'why us?' but it was good to see the desire in the team, to keep going and keep believing that we could get the victory. And when you can feel the energy from the crowd, it gives you that extra energy."

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