Shaka: Departure 'inevitable'

Shaka Hislop admits that he is almost certain to leave West Ham in the summer.

Shaka, whose contract - like that of fellow custodian Craig Forrest - is up in the summer, made 12 league starts at the beginning of the season but has had to sit it out on the bench since summer signing David James recovered from injury.

But Shaka insists there is no bitterness, explaining: "We do get on very well and it is a fantastic working relationship. He is an established England international and as much as I see him as competition, it is an opportunity to learn a few things from someone who is so highly respected in the game.

"As much as it is disappointing to not be in the team it is good to have someone like David to work alongside and it will serve me in the long run."

But he knows a change of scenery is on the cards, and he says: "I think it is inevitable now. I still see myself as a first choice goalkeeper and I make no excuses about that. Obviously I'm not getting that opportunity right now right here, so I think the next logical step would be a move.

"But we'll see what comes up. It has to be the right move and I still enjoy coming into Chadwell Heath every day so that is an option I would pursue as well if it was made available to me.

"A lot can happen over the next six months but I will sit down in May, see what choices are available, and see what is the best decision both professionally and personally.

"I think I will stay until May; that is my thinking right now, but of course if something came up that I couldn't turn down before then I might have to change my tune somewhat.

"It is all about the right thing coming up at the right time and waiting to see what develops.

"I am accustomed to putting on the number one shirt for West Ham and it is a disappointment to be sitting on the bench but it is part of the game and it is just another hurdle I have to overcome; it has happened to everyone at some point in their career."

Shaka was amongst the first really established players in England to take advantage of the Bosman ruling, and Harry Redknapp once called him the 'signing of the century.'

Now it seems that Glenn Roeder will also lose him on a free transfer - but Shaka stresses that the pair get on famously.

"We have a very good working relationship and I understand it is nothing personal at all. I understand this whole business and I'm sure he understands my thinking as well.

"The year has ended on a little bit of a disappointing note, but all in all I think it was a good twelve months and an important one for my career.

"The team is doing very well and it is a pleasure to see it; we have the players in the squad that means we should be looking to climb the table after a disappointing start.

"Now the team is getting back to where they rightfully belong.

"A lot of things have changed that you almost took for granted at Upton Park but it is a sign that the club has ambitions and is growing; I think it is quite clear the direction the administrators want to take this club."