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Hammers cast eye over American talent

PUBLISHED: 16:05 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 05 October 2010

West Ham's fabled youth academy will cast its net further afield after the club announced they are on the lookout for talent across the Atlantic.

By JONATHAN CLEGG

WEST Ham's fabled youth academy built its reputation by developing local recruits into household names but the club will scour further afield after announcing that they are on the lookout for talent across the Atlantic.

Academy director Tony Carr, who has nurtured the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole (right) and more recently James Tomkins and Freddie Sears, will travel to North America this summer to cast his eye over the top prospects from the United States and Canada.

Carr and youth coach Paul Heffer aim to identify 10 players to visit the academy at Little Heath to complement the club's commitment to local youngsters.

They will stage a series of training camps featuring coaching sessions and full-scale trial matches in Georgia, Illinois and Indiana as well as around the first-team's pre-season matches in Ontario and Ohio.

The trip is the latest in a series of links with the United States Soccer League, who signed a five-year partnership with West Ham in 2007.

The agreement has already sent 16 players to Upton Park to be evaluated by the club's youth coaches over the last year, and Carr is eager to increase that number after revealing the exciting potential of young talent in the United States.

He said: "The enthusiasm with American youngsters to get better and to play the game is unquenchable at the moment.

"There is lots of raw talent in the US and some very good players. There is no question about that. We had a boy come to our Academy who was on a European break and he made a visit through our links in the US.

"We let him join in with our Under-12 squad and this player was as good as anyone we had recruited ourselves locally. We know the talent is there in the US."

Carr, who began his role as academy director in 1973, added that the aim of the trip is to uncover youngsters with the right blend of skill and determination to succeed at the top level in the Premier League.

He said: "We are looking for a passion and enthusiasm of the game. You have got to want the football at your feet every minute of the day to learn and hone those techniques.

"As they progress and get older, the game gets faster and more physically demanding so we are trying to produce and develop a player that can cope with those demands later on.

"In the early years, it is just about developing skill, technique and individuality.


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