West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has backed Ravel Morrison to make a “big contribution” after noticing a change in his attitude.
• Thorne: Morrison dons the gloves
Morrison, 20, joined the Hammers from Manchester United, where he was considered to be one of the brightest prospects to grace the club’s prestigious academy.
However, following a series of off-field issues, he was allowed to leave Old Trafford, completing a £1 million move to Upton Park in January 2012.
Morrison initially struggled to make an impact for the Londoners but, after he made his Premier League bow as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Newcastle on Saturday, Allardyce said he would start against Cheltenham in the League Cup on Tuesday.
“I think that he’s an emerging talent, the lad, and we’re all very pleased with what he did during pre-season for us,” Allardyce said. “Sticking a player on in the late stages of the game is risky, but we’ve got to do it at some stage. We see the talent and we need to nurture it.
“The only way to nurture it is to get him in the first team and give him some minutes. He’ll play against Cheltenham on Tuesday, and we’ll see how he does, as well as a number of other players. We’ll keep an eye on him, and hopefully he can make a big contribution this year.”
Allardyce said he had seen a change in the player’s attitude following a loan spell at Birmingham under manager Lee Clark.
“I think he had a good season with Clarky, and Clarky ended up getting the best out of him towards the back end of the season,” he said. “He’s brought that back with him for us, and we’re glad to see that talent is emerging.”