For Kevin Keen, Saturday's Premier League trip to Stoke City will be a particularly special occasion.

West Ham United's first-team coach spent five-and-a-half years with the Potters between October 1994 and September 2000, making 201 league and cup appearances and scoring 12 goals.

While he is now fully focused on the Hammers' pursuit of a place in next season's UEFA Europa League, which will be boosted greatly by a fifth away victory of the season this weekend, Keen has been delighted by his former club's progress under Tony Pulis following their promotion to the Premier League last term.

Stoke have lost just three of the 17 league matches they have played at the Britannia Stadium this season, and Keen is acutely aware of the cauldron-like atmosphere that will await West Ham in the Potteries this weekend.

"It'll be nice to go back to Stoke. It's my first time back. I think Tony Pulis has done a fantastic job. The crowd and the vocal support that they will have on Saturday will be immense and it will be interesting to see if our away support can match it.

"It's going to be a tough game. They are strong and have got a method that works for them and good luck to them. Hopefully we can counter that and try and play our stuff and come away with a win, but it's going to be tough.

"I'm hoping, and it's not very often, maybe about five per cent of the time you go there, that it might be a nice day on Saturday. Certainly if it was any time between October and March, the weather would have been windy and rainy but I've been told it might be quite nice on Saturday, which should be good."

One Stoke player Keen knows extremely well is Matthew Etherington. A fellow left-winger, the coach is a big admirer of the 27-year-old's qualities. Etherington made 195 appearances for West Ham between August 2003 and January 2009, scoring 18 goals, before leaving for Stoke in early January.

"I know Matty very well. He is one of a number of good footballers they have at the club alongside people like James Beattie, Liam Lawrence and the boy Glenn Whelan that they bought from Sheffield Wednesday.

"Matty was a super little player for us. Alan Pardew signed him and he was a great, attacking winger in the West Ham tradition. There are similarities between us, but he might have been a little bit quicker than me and I might have scored a few more goals! He's a good lad and has done really well since he's gone up there and he'll be wanting to put one over us and he hasn't scored there yet, so he'll be wanting to get his first goal."

While Etherington will be eager to get one over his former club, Keen has been working closely with manager Gianfranco Zola and fellow first-team coach Steve Clarke to neutralise the threat posed by the wideman and his Stoke team-mates.

While they have been concentrating on securing a vital victory over Pulis' side this week, Zola and Clarke have pledged their futures to the club by signing long-term contracts until 2013. The pair's decision to commit themselves to West Ham has delighted Keen, who is clearly relishing the opportunity to work alongside two coaches who believe in playing football the 'West Ham way'.

"It's brilliant [that Zola and Clarke have signed new contracts]. I really do feel that the club is going places and I think the supporters can feel that. The type of football we're playing at the moment harks back to what West Ham is all about - your Alan Devonshires, your Trevor Brookings, your Billy Bonds, your Bobby Moores. Certainly I think it harks back to those traditional principles of playing quick, fast, skilful football with spirit, bite and intensity."

Returning the compliments, the last word should go to Zola. The manager stressed that Keen was an integral part to everything the club had achieved this season. "Kevin has been very important. I like his attitude and he has been positive all the tiem and the players they feel that. They can recognise people like that. He has been very good and he helps me a lot."