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David Moyes must unleash West Ham academy gem Jamal Baptiste vs Dinamo Zagreb

West Ham United manager David Moyes must turn to academy gem Jamal Baptiste after suffering yet another defensive injury blow this week.

The Irons host Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb in their final Group H match of the Europa League later tonight and they will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run in the competition despite losing Kurt Zouma, to add to the Scot’s woes.

He was already without first-choice centre-back Angelo Ogbonna for the rest of the season, and now the £30m summer signing is out for the foreseeable future too, so it leaves Moyes rather light on options heading into kick-off.

The French colossus was withdrawn early during the win over Chelsea on Saturday. It has since been described as a “massive blow” by reporter Tom Clark.

Should Jamal Baptiste start vs Zagreb?





However, the Hammers have already qualified for the knockout stages, so there is room to manoeuvre and it wouldn’t be worth risking any more injury setbacks to other first-team stars.

It could be wise to hand some valuable minutes to Baptiste, who is widely touted to be one of the club’s most promising youngsters. It would be good to see exactly what he can offer before January strikes, too.

“One of the finest young prospects at the club without any doubt is 15-year-old Jamal Baptiste, who believe me is going to be a monster player in the Issa Diop mould,” claimed former academy chief Terry Westley to Claret and Hugh back in 2019. “I see him as exactly that – the new Issa Diop.”

“He’s got everything, height, power, pace and is already, at such a young age, making a serious impact on the under 23s.”

Indeed, now at 18 years of age, Baptiste could be in line for an opportunity in the first team, following the devastating injuries to Zouma and Ogbonna.

Over the years, the east London outfit have seen numerous talents emerge through their ranks, of course – most notably one being Declan Rice, whilst Ben Johnson is another fine example.

The 6 foot England U19 international, who has been dubbed ‘the new Rio’ Ferdinand, could be the next in line, should he be given the chance to shine tonight.

Hammers legend Carlton Cole waxed lyrical about the youngster during an appearance on the ‘Irons Inside’ podcast.

After describing him as a “massive prospect”, he added: “He’s going to be the next Anton Ferdinand hopefully or the next Rio, so hopefully we can these boys on the right track and help them transition into being a professional footballer full-time.”

At a desperate time of need and with West Ham already in the next round, there would be little harm in unleashing Baptiste on Dinamo Zagreb at the London Stadium tonight.

AND in other news, ExWHUemployee reveals major West Ham injury update

Article title: David Moyes must unleash West Ham academy gem Jamal Baptiste vs Dinamo Zagreb

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