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Young West Ham United duo Reece Burke and Josh Cullen will be allowed to leave the club this month as long as they are not needed to cover the first team, says coach Alan Irvine.

The pair spent the first half of the season on loan at Bolton Wanderers but their deals were not extended with the Hammers short on squad depth.

Both played the full 90 minutes as West Ham were held to a 0-0 draw by Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup earlier this month and they could feature in Tuesday’s replay.

However, Irvine admitted that if Burke and Cullen were not going to feature for the senior side going forward then they would be allowed to depart to further their development.

“We are really conscious that we wanted them to come back,” the West Ham assistant manager told Football.London.

“We needed them to come back because of the situation prior to the first game but we don’t want to stop their development either so if we feel they wont get sufficient time for us, and we can afford to do it, because we have senior players that will be involved instead then maybe we will look at that situation.”

Bolton are again believed to be the frontrunners to sign the West Ham youngsters for the remainder of the campaign as they look to steer clear of the Championship relegation zone.

Hammers centre-back Burke made 14 league appearances for the Trotters after joining in August and scored in the 2-2 draw with Reading in November.

Meanwhile, his midfield West Ham team-mate Cullen featured in 12 outings, starting nine of them.

Both are highly rated by the management at the London Stadium, as evidenced by their inclusion against Shrewsbury.

Nonetheless, it does seem that giving the West Ham pair experience in the second tier would be a preferable option compared to sending them back into the development squad.

After the cup replay against the Shrews, the Hammers are again at the London Stadium this weekend with Bournemouth the visitors in the Premier League.

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