He might be just a few months past his 18th birthday, but Dan Potts has ambitions on becoming a Barclays Premier League regular this season.

The teenager established himself as the Hammers' Under-18 captain, impressing manager Sam Allardyce before being called into the first-team squad and making his debut against Barnsley in December 2011.

Then just 17, Potts made four appearances in December and January, catching the eye of the coaching staff and supporters alike with his poise, maturity and all-round ability.

Now, the left-back is setting himself the target of forcing his way into Big Sam's plans on a weekly basis.

"I've had my taste and that will stay with me forever," he told whufc.com in an exclusive interview in Bad Waltersdorf. "That was my dream and it'll stay with me forever.

"I want to push for my place and start. I don't want to be thought of as a squad player. I want to be playing for West Ham United. I don't think it's a matter of age. I think if you are good enough then you will play.

"Obviously we were down in the Championship last year and the Premier League is another step up in terms of quality but that is where I want to play my football.

"I am still developing but I'm at the stage where, if I'm technically good enough, then I will play. I'm going to keep working in the gym and during training sessions and hopefully I'll get my chance."

The return of George McCartney on a permanent basis will give Potts plenty of competition for the left-back berth, but the youngster has nothing but praise for his positional rival.

A Premier League player himself for the majority of his career, Potts sees McCartney as a perfect person and player to try and emulate.

"George has had a great career and I'm glad he has signed for us because he is a great role model for me.

"I watched him play last year and he was voted Players' Player of the Year and I thought he fully deserved it. He's a very consistent player and has had a good career and is an established left-back."

While he may have to wait for his Premier League opportunity, Potts is relishing the opportunity to train alongside top-class players on a daily basis.

Out in Austria, he has been working as hard as anyone during the pre-season training camp and now cannot wait for the matches to begin in the shape of a meeting with FK Austria Wien on Saturday evening.

"It's been a great experience for me coming away with the boys. I've been used to pre-season with the Academy and this is a big step up. It's a lot harder, especially in temperatures like this.

"I think everyone is in the same boat. Everyone has had time off and has come back in and looked in good nick during the sessions. Training has been a decent standard throughout and we're all going to push on from here.

"It's a big year for the Club and for the whole squad in general and for me. Like every year, you want to come back and prove yourself and start afresh.

"The buzz is still there from after we got promoted. Pre-season is hard work but you've got to do it because it's part and parcel of being a footballer.

"These players know what it is all about because they are Premier League players and they want to stay there."

Home kit