West Ham are lining up young defender Frederik Alves Ibsen for a first-team role next season, Football Insider understands.
The Denmark Under-21 international joined in the January window after the Hammers had a £1.4million bid accepted by Danish club Silkeborg.
A West Ham source has told Football Insider that Alves has made a big impression since his arrival and the coaching staff have earmarked him for a more prominent senior role next term.
David Moyes and his backroom team are in no doubt the centre-back, 21, is capable of playing at Premier League level.
Alves is still waiting for his first-team debut but has been named on the bench for four league matches since he joined.
His involvement in an Irons shirt so far has come in four games for the club’s Under-23s.
West Ham’s plan for Alves when they signed him was to bed him in with youth-team matches before phasing him into the senior side.
The defender is progressing well and Moyes believes he will be able to compete with the senior centre-backs for a place next season.
The make-up of the central defender roster is up in the air and much will depend upon where the team finish in the league.
A top-four finish would naturally transform the club’s finances and aspirations, while a Europa League position would also have a dramatic effect on the squad size.
Fabian Balbuena is out of contract in the summer, loan star Craig Dawson is due to return to parent club Watford and Angelo Ogbonna turns 33 in May.
West Ham sealed the signing of Alves ahead of a number of Premier League rivals including Leeds United.
Able to play centre-back and full back, he has already made 50 senior appearances for Silkeborg, eight of which have come this season.