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Pellegrini issues Oxford warning

Filed: Friday, 30th November 2018
By: Staff Writer

Manuel Pellegrini has told Reece Oxford that he should be playing first team football at the current stage of his career.

The England youth international told The Times last weekend that he was considering seeking a move away from West Ham having failed to be offered the opportunity to feature in the first team this season.

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However Pellegrini may have potentially stolen the 19-year-old's thunder by agreeing with his suggestion. "A player who is 19 or 20 must be ready to play in the first team," said Pellegrini. "If you don't have the space you must go to another club.

"We have in his position players who I am happy with. Angelo Ogbonna is also on the bench, but working very well every day. Issa Diop is playing well, and while Declan Rice doesn't play in that position, he can.

"So, we will see what happens with Reece, whether he stays here, or if it is better for him to go and play for another team."

Despite making his first team debut against FC Lusitans in the Europa League more than threee years ago at the age of just 16, Oxford - whose annual salary is worth in the region of £1million - has gone on to make just three starts for West Ham since.

The Edmonton-born teenager has also spent time on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach and Reading, in 2017, although speaking to The Times last weekend he described the latter move as a "waste of a season" - whilst admitting that it "hurts" him to see other Academy youngsters move ahead of him in the pecking order.

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"I sit on the settee and feel angry," he said. "I donít want to be there. I want to be on the pitch, playing against these big teams.

"I was looking forward to getting back to the club [following my most recent loan]. I just wanted to kick on. I thought I had a good pre-season but the club had bought so many new players they didnít play me and then I was in the 23s.

"I donít want to be in the 23s. I see it as Iíve been there, done that, and suddenly you have doubts. Am I good enough? Have I lost it?"

And Oxford admitted that he had barely spoken with Pellegrini since he arrived at the club last summer - even though he had been enthused by promotions for fellow Academy graduates such as Declan Rice and Grady Diangana.

"I havenít really had a conversation with Pellegrini," he added. "We last spoke on the training pitch and he told me the reason I havenít been in and around the team was because of my attitude. Or the perception of my attitude.

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"You look at players your age, like Declan Rice, who has done so well, and think thatís the challenge, I should be doing that. But I also look at older players, who have been in first teams for years, and know Iíve got the same ability as them.

"Things can change at West Ham in a week. I think Pellegrini believes if youíre training hard you can get in. I look at Grady - heís kicking on now. I want that to be me. But if Iím not playing, I hope West Ham would look kindly on my situation and let me go.

"The club has done a lot for me. Given me my debut. Made me the player I am. I could never talk down the club. But right now I need to be playing and if West Ham are not playing me, Iíve got to move on and part ways."

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