West Ham United's superb Barclays U18 Premier League form has been based on impressive performances all over the pitch.

The Hammers' seven-match unbeaten run has seen them score 16 goals but, perhaps more importantly, concede just five.

Sam Howes has kept goal in six of those seven matches, conceding just three goals in the process. The England U16 stopper is a schoolboy who turned 16 just last week, but the youngster has established himself as West Ham's No1 at U18 level this season - his sixth at the Club.

"I joined West Ham for the beginning of the U11 season," Howes revealed. "I started off at Crystal Palace where I was noticed playing against West Ham. I left Crystal Palace and approached West Ham, who offered me a trial, so I took the great opportunity and have never looked back on it since."

Howes' development saw him play four times for the U18s last season, while he was also invited to train alongside the first-team goalkeepers.

"At first it was a big shock to me when my goalkeeper coach Jerome John took me over to Chadwell Heath to train with the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen. It was a great achievement and later that year they asked me to warm up with the first team before the home game against Wigan. That has to go down as one of my favourite footballing moments to date."

Still an U16 in age-group terms, Howes splits his time between training and education at Rush Green, where the Academy has established a partnership with Robert Clack School.

On the pitch, the teenager has passed almost every test so far.

"The season has been going really well so far with being involved in the U18s a lot this year already. That's great for me to get the experience with the older lot, not just on but off the pitch as well.

"We are on a run as a team with some very good wins over some big teams. As an individual I'm training with the first-team 'keepers nearly every week, which is unreal to learn off the likes of Jussi, Adrian and Rapha [Spiegel].

"Martyn Margetson has made me feel very welcome in the group as well and I'm very honoured to work with such great goalkeepers who I learn a great deal from.

"We find ourselves the first ones out in the morning on the training pitch and the last ones in. JJ and Marge are two great coaches and I enjoy working with them both because I learn so much.

"I've known and worked with JJ for nearly six years and loved being coached by him and learnt so much that I can take up to the first team with Marge. I've only started properly training with Marge this year and am still learning a lot, but what I know about both of them is they will give up their time to help you through training and give you tips to improve your game.

"I get plenty of advice from Jussi as well. He's a great guy, a true professional and a great role model to youngsters. To learn from a guy who has over 400 Premier League games under his belt is massive for a young 'keeper learning like me. He helps me with technical things so like hand shape and this has made a big improvement in my game."

Howes' form, which he will hope to take into Saturday's Barclays U18 Premier League fixture at Reading, has seen him capped by England at U16 level. Should he continue to improve, more international honours will surely follow.

"Representing my country was the best moment of my career to date. I always dreamt as a young kid of putting the Three Lions shirt on and singing the national anthem.

"Playing in the games was just unreal and I couldn't believe it had happened, I was speechless for days. It felt just right as well, and like all the hard work had paid-off. Now I have to keep improving and raising the bar."

Finally, anyone who attended the U18s' 3-1 win over Aston Villa last weekend will have noticed Howes wearing special 'poppy' gloves to mark Remembrance Day.

"I wore them to show my support to the members of our Armed Forces who aren't with us anymore. These inspirational people put their lives on the line for us to have the safest lives possible. Another reason I wore them was to show my respect to their poor families. They are great and fantastic people and I'm happy to support them with the gloves."

West Ham take on Reading in the Barclays U18 Premier League at Hogwood Park on Saturday, with kick-off at 11am.