As per the club’s official website, Premier League side West Ham let young defender Reece Oxford leave the London Stadium on loan on Deadline Day. The 20-year-old has come up through the ranks at the East London outfit but has only gone on to make 17 senior appearances for the Hammers over the years, with struggles for regular game time this term under Manuel Pellegrini calling his future at the club into doubt.
And it was Bundesliga outfit Augsburg who sealed a temporary deal for the versatile sensation on the final day of the January transfer window, and while Oxford hadn’t actually featured in the West Ham first team in the first half of the season, the late decision to let him leave in January could very much come back to bite the Hammers.
Ultimately, things haven’t quite worked out for the England Under-20 international since bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old against Arsenal back in August 2015, with the youngster failing to nail down a spot in the Hammers first team with only 17 appearances to his name, none of which have come this term and only two of which came last time round.
And for someone tipped by many to be the next big-thing coming out of the West Ham academy many years ago, things certainly haven’t panned out as many would have expected, with loan spells at Borussia Monchengladbach and Reading also proving difficult for the 20-year-old in his pursuit of first team football.
On the surface then, another opportunity to play his trade and attempt to get regular minutes under his belt makes complete sense, but not given the current injury situation Pellegrini’s side have at centre back.
Ultimately, Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna are the only senior centre backs fit for selection given the long-term injury to Winston Reid alongside Fabian Balbuena’s recent setback – the Hammers look set to be without the duo until at least the middle of February.
And even when Balbuena returns, as expected, later on this month, that still leaves Pellegrini’s side somewhat short of options in that area of the field – it only takes another injury or suspension to plunge West Ham into a defensive crisis.
Yes, Declan Rice could fill in at centre back if needed given his talents in that position, but doing so would see him vacate a midfield spot that he has made his own this season – what the Hammers would gain with him at the back they would lose greatly from him not being in midfield.
As such, while Oxford didn’t get a look-in under Pellegrini in the first half of the season, he at least provided the Chilean with an option at centre back were things to go wrong in that department – but that option is no longer there.
And with the Hammers stretched enough defensively given injuries to Reid and Balbuena, the club’s decision to let him leave late in the January window could very much come back to bite the East London outfit as the season progresses.
West Ham fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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