There has been plenty of hype surrounding all manner of different West Ham United Academy stars in the past few years, but very little of it like that associated with young midfielder Marcus Browne.
However, the media and supporter attention has somewhat died down during the 2017/2018 campaign, largely due to the starlet suffering from a string of different injury problems which also plagued him at the back end of last season.
Undoubtedly, another contributor towards this has been the successes of some of his teammates with the first-team and U23s, namely the likes of Declan Rice, Nathan Holland and Domingos Quina, to name but a few.
Although, it has only taken Browne regaining his fitness and injuries and loan spells to those around him for him to steal back much of the limelight in the early part of 2018.
Now back fit and firing for Terry Westley’s side, the attack-minded central man has appeared as a real talisman in recent weeks in the PL2 and his statistics since fully returning in January show that.
In his last five appearances, Browne has jotted up a goal, coming from the penalty spot in a 2-2 home draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the PL2, and multiple assists, holding the captain’s armband.
One of those came in Saturday’s impressive away victory at League leaders Liverpool, in which he was a contender for the Man of the Match award, teeing up Josh Pask for the early winner for a free-kick.
With promising defenders Rice, Reece Burke, Reece Oxford and Moses Makasi, exciting midfielders Josh Cullen and Dan Kemp, and prolific Spanish striker Toni Martinez all injured, out on loan or currently with the first-team.
The door is very much open for the boyhood West Ham fan to continue to be the key star in the young Hammers’ bid to finish in the top four during their first season in the PL2 Division 1.
Westley’s boys are sixth in the standings, a mere four points off Swansea City in fourth position and only eight adrift of the Reds leading the way, they travel to Manchester City next.
Although if Browne does manage to carry on in this vein, the Development Squad may be forced to play their final few matches of the campaign without him, with first-team boss David Moyes keeping a close eye.
Browne has only ever appeared once for the senior side and that came in a Europa League Qualifier clash away at Astra Giurgiu in summer 2016, when he came on as a second-half substitute and impressed.
Aside from that, the prodigy endured a tricky loan spell with Wigan Athletic in the Championship at the end of the 2016/2017 season, injuries and poor form affecting his time at the DW Stadium.
Although if there is one man who is going to battle it out with Browne for the star player role in the Reserves, it is surely going to be the aforementioned Holland.
The former Everton man is now back in training in the wake of a three-month lay-off for a hamstring tear, that required surgery to fix, before that he was in blistering form.
His exploits had even earned him some first-team Football under then manager Slaven Bilic, who introduced him during a Carabao Cup London Stadium thrashing of Bolton Wanderers back in September.
There is little doubting that both will be very keen to grab the attention of both their U23 manager and first-team gaffer in the few months of the campaign that remain, though for now, the question remains, which young diamond will shine brighter?