West Ham should put Oxford in shop window with rare first-team start

West Ham outcast Reece Oxford should be given a rare chance to prove his worth in the FA Cup this weekend as the Hammers prepare to take on AFC Wimbledon.

Per Football.London, Oxford is desperate to leave the club in January, and, with Manuel Pellegrini short of options at centre-back, a rare start could be the perfect opportunity for the defender to put himself in the shop window.

On the chalkboard

Oxford made his return to action in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Gillingham earlier this week but has been out of the first-team reckoning for some time.

The 20-year-old has not played for the senior side this season, instead captaining the club’s Under-23 side in Premier League 2.

He has made a total of 17 first team appearances for the Irons, per Transfermarkt, and made his debut for the club in 2015 at the age of 16.

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But he has spent the last two seasons on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach and now seems desperate to leave the London Stadium.

Indeed, the Daily Mail reported earlier this month that he was set to hold talks with his agency, Colossal Sports Management, in a bid to iron out his future plans.

However, West Ham will struggle to attract any bids for the youngster if they do not give scouts the opportunity to see him play in the senior squad.

No-brainer

With Pellegrini struggling for centre-back options, and Fabian Balbuena injured, selecting Oxford is a low-risk-high-reward strategy.

Playing the likes of Issa Diop or Angelo Ogbonna instead increases the risk of Pellegrini losing another centre-back to injury, especially at Wimbledon’s Cherry Red Records Stadium.

Instead, Oxford should be given a rare chance – it would mark his first appearance for the club since he played four minutes in January 2018 against Crystal Palace.

The England Under-20 international would have the opportunity to put himself in the shop window, and West Ham could then end the transfer window fielding bids for the centre-back.

It should be something of a no-brainer for boss Pellegrini.