With the FA Cup 4th Round taking place this weekend our beloved West Ham face an away trip to the DW Stadium to face League One table toppers Wigan Athletic.

It’s hard to know what sort of team we will go with judging from our injury list but I’d safely say it will be a mix of both youth and experience much akin to the last round against League One 3rd placed Shrewsbury Town.

Two of the players most talked about after both games against Shrewsbury were Josh Cullen and Reece Burke. A lot of what was being discussed was whether or not they should be given more chances in Premier League games or if it would benefit them going out on loan (again) for the rest of the season.


Josh Cullen

I highly rate this man. I’ve been impressed with every game I’ve seen him play in, the Europa League Qualifying games versus Lusitanos and Astra Giurgiu, a couple of pre-season friendlies and lately in the first game versus Shrewsbury (I didn’t get the chance to see the replay)

What I have noticed is that he is very calm and assured on the ball, he is always looking to get on the ball and makes himself available for it, exactly what you want from a central midfielder. He is very much in the mould of Mark Noble.

He has had a few loan spells with both Bradford and Bolton.

At League One’s Bradford he made 55 league appearances, scored 1 goal, picked up League One Player of the Month for April 2017 and was voted Players Player of the Year. In his first season at Bradford they finished 5th, qualifying for the Play-Offs where they were beaten by Millwall in the Semi Final. The following season again Bradford finished 5th and qualified for the Play-Offs, this time losing in the final and again to Millwall! Even more reason for him to hate Millwall than the fact he is and his family are West Ham supporters!

He then joined Championship side Bolton in August 2017 where he made 12 league appearances up until he was recalled back to West Ham at the start of the month.

He has played in the last 2 FA Cup games for West Ham and lost a couple of teeth. A big thing was made of him playing on after that but with his Irish connections I’m sure he’s aware of Gaelic Football and it would take a lot more than losing a few teeth to stop us from playing. (Anyone who hasn’t seen this game should watch it when its on Sky Sports in the summer months)

Would I loan him or keep him for the rest of the season? I’d keep him. I’d like to see him get more Premiership game time. I’d use him as a direct replacement for Noble or Kouyate in games, giving him 15-20 mins a game to gain that experience. Look at how it has benefited Rice, we can now call upon him as and when needed and I feel the more game time Cullen gets the more we will be able to do the same with him.


Reece Burke

Burke is a player who can play right back or centre half. From what I have seen of him he also seems assured on the ball, defends well and can chip in with the odd goal. 5 goals in 75 games isn’t a bad return for a defender.

He made his debut in the 5-0 FA Cup mauling by Nottm Forest back in January 2014, a game where I lost any small piece of respect I had for Sam Allardyce. It still riles me to this day the way he hung so many of our young players out to dry just to make a point. In the post-match interview, he said the West Ham fans wanted the youth to be given a chance but he was correct as they weren’t ready! He played 6 young players with 2 outfield first teamers and 2 reserve players against a high flying Championship side! He even took one of the first teamers off after 64 minutes with the score 1-0 and replaced him with another kid!

Burke then made sporadic appearances for West Ham until he joined League One Bradford on loan, along with Cullen, in August 2015. He played 34 league games, scoring 2 goals and was named Player of the Year.

The following season he joined Championship side Wigan on loan. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 league appearances scoring 1 goal.

In August 2017 he joined Championship side Bolton on loan, again with Cullen. Where he made 14 league appearances and scored 1 goal before being recalled at the start of the month.

He has also played in the last 2 FA Cup games for West Ham and scored the winner in the replay.

Loan or keep? Again, I’d keep him. I’d play him in all the cup games and use him as backup to Zabaletta. I know we have Byram for that role but he doesn’t seem to be cutting it for me. Zabaletta is going to tire towards the end of the season and hopefully we will be safe and can then play Burke in every game from then on to gain that Premier League experience.


Keeping these players and giving them more game time in my opinion is much better for them than going on loan to a lower division side. It lets us get a proper feel of the level they can play at and whether or not they are going to become regular first team players of the future.

I’m now really looking forward to tomorrows game now just to see how these men perform, hopefully they don’t make me eat my words and we get the result to take us into the 5th round. I want a decent Cup run and maybe the chance to get another trip to Wembley this season, remember we have a pretty good record there so far this season!


By Tony Close



By Gonzo

West Ham fan for as long as I can remember. I was flukey enough to watch The Irons beat Bury 10-0 in my first ever game . . . True to form, West Ham then went out and signed their central defender 😬

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