West Ham star Ben Johnson has quality for future at centre-back, says cousin and Tottenham icon Ledley King

WEST HAM academy graduate Ben Johnson could find a home at centre-back – just like cousin Ledley King.

Johnson has nailed down a spot in David Moyes' first-team this term, proving reliable in a number of positions.

The defender has spent the majority of the season at right-back but been deployed at left-back in the absence of Aaron Cresswell and at centre-back against London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea.

And Tottenham legend King, the captain who lifted the League Cup for Spurs in 2008, believes Johnson has the quality to play in the heart of the defence in the future.

Like Johnson, King played in other positions before finding his home at centre-back.

King told SunSport ahead of a Masters football event in association with Bookmakers.com: "What I do like about Ben is that he is a footballer, first and foremost, which means he is able to play in different positions.


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"And in a way I started off a little bit like that.

"In my first game I got brought on at left-back and then [Glenn Hoddle] started playing me in midfield – but I always knew I was a defender.

"Ben's versatile, good with both feet, has good balance and he's a good size.

"In the modern game, especially in a back three, he could be one of the centre-backs.

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"There's probably fewer aerial duels now than there was 15-20 years ago, you don't have to be quite as big and physical so he can definitely do that.

"He's improving each season. West Ham again have had a good season.

"They've done well at combining the league and Europa League this season, which isn't easy.

"Ben is establishing himself in the first-team which is good to see."

Johnson played a key role in helping Moyes' happy Hammers secure back-to-back top-seven Premier League finishes and reach the semi-finals of the Europa League.

As recognition for his efforts this season, the 22-year-old picked up the Mark Noble Young Hammer of the Year award.

West Ham will play in either the Europa Conference League or the Europa League next term, depending on how results play out on the final game of the season.

The Hammers can pip Manchester United to sixth if the Red Devils fail to beat Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Considering United's wretched form of two wins in their last six, a slip up is a real possibility.

But West Ham have to overcome banana skin game of their own.

The Hammers take on Brighton at the Amex, a side they have NEVER beaten in the Premier League era.

The two sides have met on nine occasions, with Brighton coming away with three wins while playing out six draws.

Vice-captain Declan Rice says the squad want Europa League football again after their standout campaign in the competition this season.

The Hammers reached the semi-finals but crashed out to Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 on aggregate.

Rice said after the 2-2 draw with table toppers Manchester City: "The result confirmed European football all-round.

“That’s good for the club because we’re going to have European nights again next year.

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“We want it to be the Europa League, and that’s no disrespect to the Conference League – we just want it to be Europa after we’ve had a taste of that.

“Let’s be positive and wait and see, but if we play like we did today against Brighton & Hove Albion next week, we’ll be alright.”

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