Leo Chambers has enjoyed an outstanding 2012/13 season so far with West Ham United.
The defender celebrated his 17th birthday at the start of August before establishing himself in Ian Hendon's all-conquering Development Squad. Chambers' form saw him called into Sam Allardyce's first-team squad, with the teenager being named on the bench for each of the last two Barclays Premier League fixtures. At international level, Chambers recently completed a full 90 minutes in England Under-18' 2-0 friendly win over Italy.
With Rob Hall, Jordan Spence and Matthias Fanimo all making the step up to Big Sam's squad this season, Chambers hopes he is next in line to graduate from the Academy of Football to the first team.
You have been on the bench for the last two Barclays Premier League games which is quite a step for someone who only turned 17 in August?
LC: "Being in the squad for the past two weeks has been a very good experience. The team has been doing well, so I am very pleased to make the step up and it has come earlier than I expected or hoped."
Did you get nervous at the possibility of making your first-team debut?
LC: "As a youngster I never really got too nervous and, even though it is a great achievement, I will just take it stride by stride."
What have you done or changed this year that has allowed you to play well so consistently?
LC: "My Under-18s coach at West Ham, Nick Haycock, will be pleased to hear this but I have moved into the Academy House and it has stood me in good stead because there have been no distractions at home. I am trying to get into the England Under-19 squad for the next European Championships [in Lithuania in 2013], which is something else to aim for. I am not content just playing with my age group - I want to push on and play at as high a level as possible."
In your absence the Development Squad picked up their fifth successive win and another clean sheet against Everton on Friday. It is a great group that you are part of and the team is doing very well?
LC: "Definitely. It is a very good, talented group of players but as we always say talent can only take you so far. The work ethic we have got not just amongst ourselves but within the club is very good. Six wins out of eight is a great run of results for any age group and it would not be possible without our combined talent and hard work."
How do you mentally handle the high of being called into the first-team squad with the relative low of being an unused substitute? Or do you consider it all part of the learning curve?
LC: "I would not really class it as a setback because these things happen in football when you are young. Situations like this are what separate the best from the rest because it is all about how you bounce back and react.The experience has been wonderful and I will take that experience into whatever I do next within football."
You can play at full-back or centre-half but have been playing regularly in the middle this season, so would you say you have settled in that position now?
LC: "I would not say that I have settled in a particular position but I have often said I prefer to play at centre-back. If I have to play at right-back, left-back, centre-back or even centre midfield I will do so because I am happy to adapt for the team."