Revealed: West Ham coaches stunned by amazing teenager emergence
West Ham academy coaches have been left stunned by the sudden emergence of defender Jeremy Ngakia, Football Insider has learned.
The right-back, 19, has made an instantly strong impression in the Hammers side since being promoted by David Moyes from the Under-23s at the end of January.
A West Ham source has told Football Insider that the club’s youth-team coaches were unsure about Ngakia a season or two ago and he was almost released.
His development into a full-back capable of twice holding his own against Player of the Year contender Sadio Mane has shocked many of those compared to where he was not so long ago.
Moyes’ faith in the teenager has been fully justified and he is expected to retain his place in the starting XI against Arsenal tomorrow.
Ngakia has been the beneficiary of injuries sustained by first choice right-back Ryan Fredericks.
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The senior man first broke down in mid-January and returned for the Man City and Brighton games – when Ngakia was left out – before suffering a new injury.
Moyes turned to academy product Ngakia rather than veteran Pablo Zabaleta and the youngster now has three Premier League starts under his belt.
He was in the winning side for the first time last weekend, as the relegation-threatened Hammers secured a comprehensive 3-1 win over Southampton.
His performances have drawn praise from senior teammates, including long-serving midfielder and captain Mark Noble in his Evening Standard column.