As most of the older Hammers’ fans will tell you, back in 1966 West Ham won the World Cup. We are reminded of it every home game as we make our way to the ground and pass the sculptured figures of Moore, Hurst and Peters holding aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy.
This England tradition was carried on through the Sir Trevor Brooking era of the 70s and 80s and the club was famed for its Academy production line. The likes of Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard Jr. and Glen Johnson all became regular starters for the national side.
In recent years however, the production has stalled. Although the likes of Mark Noble and James Tomkins have shown promise, they have been unable to force their way into the national squad at senior level.
It has been left to journeymen to fly the England flag for the Hammers since those heady days. Carlton Cole, Dean Ashton and Trevor Sinclair made brief appearances, while David James and Robert Green held the keeper’s jersey for a sustained period, until Green became the last West Ham player to feature for England back in May 2012.
This summer nine quality players arrived at Upton Park of which three are young English players. Aaron Cresswell, Carl Jenkinson and Diego Poyet joined with promising credentials and have all featured in the Premier League this season. Jenkinson and Cresswell have forced their way into the side and in the last two games have established themselves as a potent full-back pairing.
Cresswell has been an ever-present and was given the sponsor’s “Man of the Match” award on his debut against Tottenham. Jenkinson however had to overcome a pre-season hamstring injury and has done extremely well to establish himself ahead of the accomplished Guy Demel.
The reason why they have made such an impact is down to their pace, fitness and ability to cross. They can get into the opponents box yet still make it back to perform their defensive duties. Against QPR, Jenkinson still had the energy in the final fifteen minutes to get forward and burst into the opponents’ box like a winger and was unfortunate that his effort could only earn a corner.
They continued to show how effective they can be in their performance at Turf Moor on Saturday. Cresswell ensured that the Hammers were out of the blocks quickly in the second-half with a superb run and cross for Diafra Sakho to open the scoring and Jenkinson repeated the feat five minutes later for Enner Valencia to add a second.
Could this full-back pairing eventual force their way into England manager Roy Hodgson’s thinking? I certainly think so.
The current contenders are Kieran Gibbs, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers. The latter two were the subject of high profile transfer moves in the summer, yet have hardly impressed for either their new clubs or the national team. Gibbs and Baines have been around the international scene for some time but rarely replicate the sort of form they show for their clubs.
If Cresswell and Jenkinson continue to show the talent they have displayed thus far this season, they must surely be in contention for a call up.
And there is no reason why the Hammers’ international aspirations should end there! The England squad is desperately searching for a leader in the midfield. Hodgson is persisting with Jack Wilshere, but he is less than convincing and his first touch is often poor. Hammers’ fans are wondering why Noble isn’t being considered.
Stewart Downing would also love an England return and in his new role for West Ham has demonstrated how he could fill the void left by Steven Gerrard.
Looking further into the future, perhaps the third new-comer, Poyet could stake a claim?