Tony Cottee Column: There’s nothing better than seeing one of your own make his debut

Danny Potts’ debut was a credit to the Academy

It was great to see West Ham get back to winning ways on Saturday with a much-needed victory against Barnsley. It was not a classic match by all accounts and the performance wasn’t the best, but it was all about the three points at the weekend.

With the teams in the play-off positions closing in, it was important that the Hammers kept at least a couple of points ahead of them.

With Southampton not playing until the Sunday too, it was a good feeling to see West Ham joint top of the league.

However, there was one person who stole the show and that was Danny Potts.

He was brought in at the last minute to make his debut and I imagine that his lack of preparation actually ended up helping him.

It wasn’t as if he had days to be getting nervous about starting the game, he only had 10 minutes, so he didn’t have the time to really think about it.

Most Read

I am delighted for him as I know his dad well having played with him and we are still good friends today.

Danny has had a tough few years and I remember when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

It was a dark period for him and his family and it was such a sad situation.

However, he has shown that he is a fighter and I am really thrilled for him and I know that his dad will be too.

George McCartney must get some praise too for the part he played on Saturday.

We know that he can play centre back, but again he was only given 10 minutes to prepare for playing there, and he was also a fantastic mentor to Danny on the day, which just goes to show how strong the team spirit is at West Ham.

I remember that I was only 17 when I made my debut and it was the more experienced players in the team that helped me through it and that was the case on Saturday.

I know that the game being at Upton Park would have also helped Danny as the crowd were fully behind him.

As a West Ham fan there are few things that make you more proud than seeing one of your own youngsters make his debut, and it is a credit to the Academy that they are still rolling out such talented youngsters that can just step into a top Championship side and not look out of place.

Something that was highlighted for me in the Barnsley game was just how thin the Hammers squad currently is.

It is really stretched, and I am sure that Sam Allardyce will be counting down the days until the transfer window opens and he can get some new blood into the squad.

However, one good thing to come out of these periods when injuries and suspensions come along is the chance to include some of the youngsters, something that I am a big fan of.

Everyone moans about the number of players missing through injury or suspension, but it is a great chance for the kids to stake a claim and I would like to see the same thing happen at West Ham.

We are entering the busy Christmas period now and we have three games in eight days.

We are still missing some key players like Matty Taylor and Sam Baldock, but it is important that we do not rush them back.

I was at the training ground this week and I spoke to Baldock and he said he thinks he is not far off returning, but the worst thing we can do is put him in too soon and risk him being out for longer.

I am sure that Allardyce and his team will help manage those injured players back to full fitness and I look forward to seeing those two in particular back in action.

On Boxing Day the Hammers travel to Birmingham City, for yet another tough away trip.

Chris Hughton’s team are unbeaten at home this season in the league so it will be a real test for West Ham, but I think that a draw would be a good result.

Following that we go to Derby County before an easier game at home to bottom-of-the-league Coventry, and I think it would be great if the Hammers could take six points out of the nine on offer.

The momentum is already there, now is the crucial time to keep it up.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John