Kieron Dyer is eager to help West Ham United climb the Barclays Premier League table after playing a starring role in the 5-2 reserve-team win over Stoke City.
The England midfielder returned from a hamstring injury to score twice in Tuesday evening's win at Bishop's Stortford. Dyer showed no ill-effects from his recent lay-off, producing a performance full of pace and intent in front of the watching manager Gianfranco Zola and first-team coach Steve Clarke.
Having come through unscathed, the 30-year-old hoped to be involved in the first team, perhaps as soon as when Burnley visit the Boleyn Ground this weekend. "Obviously I needed the run-out and it was good, especially for young lads having an experienced player like myself out there. It went really well. I scored two goals and looked quite sharp so hopefully it gives the manager a poser."
Dyer was the experienced head in a young side featuring forwards Terry Dixon and Frank Nouble and midfielder Danny Kearns, who scored a goal apiece.
At one stage during the first half, Dyer went to the touchline to speak to namesake Alex, the reserve-team manager, about making a slight tactical change. Moments later, the Hammers took the lead through a smart finish from Kearns. "I was in the hole but we needed to stretch them so I changed positions with Terry Dixon for a bit to stretch them. I was using my tactical nous there!
"I was just pleased to get a run out, like I said. My hamstrings felt good so hopefully I'll feature at some stage. Obviously the manager needs as many fit and experienced players as possible and I'm just glad I can be back because we need to push up that table."
Dyer missed an early portion of the season with leg muscle injuries, but he hopes those problems are behind him and he can regain full match-fitness in the near future.
"I had a good pre-season under my belt. I know I had the problem after the first game of the season against Wolves, but I had that good base of a pre-season and, although I'm not 100 per cent, I felt sharp and quick and that's a good sign for the future."
While Dyer was pleased with his own progress, he was also impressed with the performance of his young team-mates, and predicted bright futures for the likes of Dixon, Nouble, Kearns, Edgar, defenders Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson and Fabio Daprela, along with goalkeeper Marek Stech.
"I went and watched the lads in the friendly against Ipswich and they were lacking a bit of belief and confidence and got murdered. This time, they showed belief and hunger and played a Stoke team that had a number of first-team players in their squad, so to beat them 5-2 is a testament to them.
"You only have to look at Zavon Hines, Junior Stanislas, Josh Payne and Jack Collison to see the gaffer is not afraid to put in the youths. If they keep playing like that, I'm sure they'll be pushing into the first-team squad at some point."