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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 13:34 GMT
The East End's bright young things
Defoe has been sensational on loan at Bournemouth
Defoe has been sensational on loan at Bournemouth
In the wake of Jermain Defoe's goalscoring exploits, BBC Sport Online's Sean Martin looks at West Ham's crop of young talent.

West Ham look to have found the latest star to roll off the seemingly continuous production line of talent at the east London club.

While Jermain Defoe may have been banging in the goals right, left and centre for Bournemouth to set a new post-war record for scoring in consecutive games, he remains one of Harry Redknapp's players.

The 18-year-old on-loan star will return to the Upton Park club at the end of the season to challenge for a place in the first team squad.

And he will be just one of a host of burgeoning talent fighting to don the claret and blue shirt.

Cole is one of the Hammers' brightest stars
Cole is one of the Hammers' brightest stars
While the club that led the way in producing home-grown talent, Manchester United, are wealthy enough to buy in foreign stars, West Ham are fast assuming a reputation as a club that fosters young stars.

A club of their size will always struggle to retain the brightest stars - as seen by the record 18m transfer of Rio Ferdinand to Leeds - but there remains a youthful revolution in east London.

Defoe was part of the FA Youth Cup-winning team of 1999 who gave their hapless Coventry City rivals a 9-0 pasting over two legs.


Hopefully I can fight for a place at West Ham and follow in the foosteps of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick
  Jermain Defoe
That same side contained the undoubted talents of Michael Carrick and Joe Cole - both now first team regulars and both tipped for full England honours under Sven Goran Erikkson.

Alongside them were also goalkeeper Steve Bywater, wing back Adam Newton and Irish youth international Shaun Byrne, all of whom are highly rated by the club.

The six players are all aged 20 or younger, but have not spent their time at the club kicking their hells waiting for their chance of cracking the first team.

Redknapp prefers to farm out his young stars to lower league sides, such as his former club Bournemouth, to give them the experience he feels they need to play in the Premiership.

Lampard is now something of a veteran
Lampard is now something of a veteran
Newton has had spells at Portsmouth and Notts County, while Carrick spent a loan spell at Birmingham.

But Redknapp is not afraid to give them their chance with all of his crop of youngsters having made their first team debuts.

It is a policy that Defoe seems to approve of: "It's great at Bournemouth," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "Everybody's been good to me.

"Hopefully, though, I can fight for a place at West Ham and follow in the foosteps of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick."

Frank Lampard may be aged just 22 - but it looks like he will be soon be regarded as something of a veteran in the West Ham ranks as the teenagers begin to make their mark.

In Defoe, West Ham may have just uncovered their latest young star - but the club's supporters will be hoping they can build a team to challenge for honours around the current crop rather than being forced to sell their bright young things.

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See also:

24 Jan 01 |  West Ham Utd
Redknapp tips Defoe for stardom
23 Jan 01 |  Eng Div 2
Defoe sets league record
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