Reece Oxford
Reece Oxford became West Ham's youngster ever player in their Europa League opener Getty Images

West Ham United youngster Reece Oxford must get used to comparisons to Rio Ferdinand, according to defender Joey O'Brien, after the 16-year-old became the club's youngster ever player in the Europa League win over FC Lusitans.

Being 16 years and 198 days old when he made his debut, playing the full 90 minutes of the 3-0 first qualifying round win at Upton Park, Oxford beat the previous record set by Billy Williams in 1922, who was 16 years and 221 days old.

The 6ft 3ins centre-back is the England Under-17 captain and his presence, London birthplace promotion into the West Ham team at such an early age has seen him compared with Ferdinand, who enjoyed a trophy-laden club career with Manchester United.

Ferdinand made his debut for West Ham aged 17 and defender Joey O'Brien says Oxford must now expect regular scrutiny after making an early impact not seen since the days of the former England captain, who was formerly the world's most expensive defender after moving to Old Trafford for €46m [£32.71m, $51.04m].

"It's something he will have to deal with and that isn't easy for a 16-year-old kid," O'Brien told The Evening Standard.

"The Premier League is probably the toughest league in the world and it's even tougher than 10 years or so ago when those players came through, so it will be harder for him to come through.

"It's unbelievable, it is top-end stuff doing that at that young age. When I was 16 I was still in school back home. It is fantastic for him and the academy. He was on the bench last year and nothing really phases him.

"That's the most important thing, especially today with the hype around the game. Sometimes you can get carried away with the whole thing but he just comes in and it doesn't bother him.

"But he has a lot to do. I have seen many a player play with expectations so high and never quite fulfil it. So many things have to fall your way. Physically he looks great but there is so much luck involved in making it to the top."

West Ham began the lengthy qualifying process for the Europa League group with victory thanks to Diafra Sakho's brace and James Tomkins' header in Slaven Bilic's first official match as boss since taking over from Sam Allardyce.

Despite taking a watching brief, O'Brien reveals the Croat showed his gratitude to the team after the game, to an 11 made up of first team players and academy graduates.

"He came in after the game and thanked us all," he added. "In Ireland [the preseason training camp] he came over, looked at us, spoke to a few of the lads and came across really well.

"This is a chance for everyone – young lads, old lads, lads who haven't been playing. The manager comes in and it is a new start for everyone."