Jordan Spence is enjoying a good season, but he is aiming to make it a great one by forcing his way into the West Ham United first team on a regular basis.
The 22-year-old defender has helped the Development Squad to the top of Barclays U21 Premier League Group 1, most notably by scoring the winner in Monday's victory at Bolton Wanderers.
Spence's form has also been noted by first-team manager Sam Allardyce, who handed him starts in the Capital One Cup ties against Crewe Alexandra and Wigan Athletic and his maiden Barclays Premier League appearance of the season as a substitute against Southampton on Saturday..
Jordan here we are talking about another win for the Development Squad. That is now six wins in eight matches and a first competitive goal of the season for yourself, so you must be delighted?
JS: "Yes, it is very pleasing to be part of a winning set-up and the boys put in another hard-fought performance and got a good win against Bolton."
Bolton are the only team to beat you in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League this season, so did that make the win all the more satisfying?
JS: "Of course because the result (a 3-1 home defeat) last time was very disappointing. I was not involved but I still watched the game and losing at Upton Park made it even harder to take. We have spoken about the game since to make sure it does not happen again and it was important to make it right by beating them on Monday."
The game was a battle, with limited opportunities for both sides, so it must been even more pleasing that you were the one who got the goal?
JS: "I was very pleased with it because I have been working on being a threat from set-pieces and for me it is just as key as my defensive play. My job first and foremost is to stop the ball going in which we did but it is also great to be able to chip in with a goal."
Earlier on in the season, the team struggled a little defensively, but that is now three successive clean sheets?
JS: "We have done a lot of work on pressing and shutting the opposition down so it is very pleasing that it is paying off. You have to credit our goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel and the back four but our job is made a lot easier by the boys in front of us because they always help the defence."
You are one of the older members of the Development Squad, so do you feel a sense of responsibility when things do not go to plan?
JS: "It has always been quite a natural thing for me to be a talker on the pitch. Whether I have been the most senior or junior player on the pitch, I have always taken up that philosophy because when you are at centre-half you see it all. I would like to think that I set a good example for the younger lads but. if you look at the way these boys play. they do not really need it."
Your regular partner at the back. Leo Chambers. is a few years younger than you at 17 but is that something you have noticed playing alongside him?
JS: "There is a big age gap between me and Leo but everybody knows he is an exceptional talent and he plays in a way far more mature than his age would suggest. That means when I go out there I only see him as a capable team-mate and there is no divide despite the gap in age. That said, because of my age, I am more experienced than him so any advice I can pass onto him I will."
You missed the majority of last season away on loan at Bristol City, so how pleasing was it to come on as a substitute in the Barclays Premier League against Southampton on Saturday?
JS: "First and foremost it was great for me to get out and play for the first team because I missed most of last year. It is important for me to play for the first team because everybody knows how proud I am every time I pull on a West Ham United shirt. It was also very pleasing to also be part of another great win."
You are not the only member of the Development Squad to feature in the first-team this year, so does that show the strength of the new set-up?
JS: "Everybody who has seen the Development Squad this season has seen the step up in quality this year from the old reserve set-up. I think it is paying dividends. We have to now show week in week out that we are good enough and Sam and Macca were both in attendance on Monday night which made it even more important to get the win and perform."
Has it also instilled a sense of pride because now you are essentially playing for something as a team and not just for your individual development?
JS: "Yes, I think it does and it is nice because wherever we have been so far we have had West Ham fans singing 'We are top of the league'. It is something that we pride ourselves on and despite having a number of tough away trips we have given a good account of ourselves. We have thrown down a marker now of the talent we possess, not just as individuals but as a team."
Presumably you are now targeting further first-team opportunities in the Barclays Premier League?
JS: "Yes, because I have always said that I believe that I am good enough to play in the top flight. I have had the opportunity to do that a few times now and it is where every young footballer in this club should be working towards. I have now got to continue working hard, day in day out, and hope that people notice that so I get more chances to show what I can do."