West Ham youngster boosted by loan spell with Wealdstone
15:35 14 January 2016
Highly-rated West Ham United youngster Sam Howes has no doubt in his mind how beneficial his loan spell at Wealdstone will be to his overall development.
Howes, who is a regular for the Irons’ Under-18 and Under-21 sides, penned a loan deal with the Conference South club last month following an injury to Stones No 1 Jonathan North.
And the 18-year-old stopper, who has just signed a one-month extension on that deal at Grosvenor Vale, has been relishing every minute of his time at the club.
He told the Times: “It’s been a really good experience.
“It’s men’s football and very competitive and you can see how much it means to the fans, and the club as well.
“It’s obviously good to be in an environment like that where winning is the only option and I’ve learnt a lot already from being involved in it.
“I’m trying to make my mark now because obviously other clubs could be watching my progress too, so all in all it’s been a really worthwhile experience.
“I just want to make sure I do well for Wealdstone for the rest of my time I’m here, that’s my main focus now.”
Howes, who has represented England at every level up until the Under-19s, has enjoyed working under Stones boss Gordon Bartlett, who is currently in his 21st season as manager at the club.
He added: “Gordon’s a top bloke, he knows the league inside out and has given me a lot of pointers as to where I can improve my game.
“He’s made me feel very welcome at the club. I’m obviously a bit younger than most of the lads who are here, but he’s integrated me into the group and been a real help to me throughout.”
Howes has been closely monitored by the club’s coaching staff during his loan, while also regularly travelling with the first-team squad as their No 3 goalkeeper – most recently in the 3-1 win against Bournemouth.
Many in the game are tipping Howes, who made his senior debut for the Hammers during a pre-season tour to New Zealand 18 months ago, to become a future star for club and country – but he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“Of course it’s brilliant for me, the progress I have been making, the club (West Ham) have given me a lot of positive feedback to date,” said the youngster.
“There’s a long way to go for me in my career though, this is only the start. But to get the experience I have done at a club like Wealdstone, especially considering my age as well, is brilliant.
“I’m a lot more comfortable and confident now, it’s a different style of football I’m used to, and that will benefit me a lot in the long term.
“I take each day as it comes and set myself mini-targets at the start of each week and then evaluate my progress at the end of them. For me that’s the best way to work.”