By Harvey Byrne
West Ham defender Reece Burke wants to use this pre-season to push on at the club after an impressive loan spell at Bradford in the 2015-16 campaign.
The 19-year-old centre-back impressed in Yorkshire and won seven accolades at the League One side’s player awards, including the Player of the Year award.
Prior to the Hammers’ USA tour, Burke revealed his excitement at getting out there and impressing manager Slaven Bilic.
“I can’t wait for the tour, but I’m not looking forward to the flight! It’s going to be good for me to get back with the first team a I’ve been away from them for quite a long time now,” he said to the club’s official website.
“Last season was one of my biggest so far. Going away and getting a load of games under my belt and getting loads of experience was great.
“I’ve really enjoyed it and the next step now is coming back in and showing what I can do. Only time will tell, and it’s up to Slaven. I want to take it step-by-step and see how it goes.”
West Ham will compete in the Europa League third qualifying round at the end of July and Burke hopes opportunities will come for himself and the younger players as they did last season.
“Last year I managed to play a few games,” he added to the club website. “That was a great experience as well. It might be the same this season, so pre-season is a good time to shine.
“It’s a good time for the gaffer to have a look at me and the other younger players too.”
West Ham have confirmed fixtures against Seattle Sounders and Carolina RailHawks during their pre-season tour in the USA.
Burke graduated through the West Ham youth academy and has gone on to make 10 senior appearances for the London club after making his debut at 17-years-old against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.
The youngster who also won West Ham’s young player of the year award during the 2014-15 season has been capped three times by England at Under-20 level.
He made three appearances for the Hammers in the Europa League before joining Bradford on loan in the recently completed season where he made 34 league appearances in the Yorkshire club’s successful campaign, helping the club secure a play-off place and contributing to Bradford’s impressive defensive record of conceding just 40 goals.
In other West Ham news, the Hammers are close to clinching the signing of Ashley Fletcher.