Jermain Ambitious

Jermain Defoe aims to shoot down the Middlesbrough defence at the weekend - and force his way into the starting line up on a more regular basis.

"Whether the bookies will be so generous with odds of 8-1 against him scoring the first goal as they were for the Chelsea FA Cup game remains to be seen, but if Jermain has his way those odds are about to start tumbling.

Perhaps they had overlooked Paolo Di Canio's suspension for that match, and with Paolo completing his three match ban against the Boro, Jermain gets his third start in a row, and 12th overall.

He has come off the bench 18 times - and scored 11 goals.

But, with Glenn Roeder saying recently that Jermain was getting ready to be "let off the leash", a fascinating three way battle with him, Fredi Kanoute, and Paolo will follow when the latter returns from suspension.

"I don't want to be on the bench even when Paolo comes back," he says, "I have been patient and hopefully now it is time.

"I am still young, learning the game, and I am enjoying my football at West Ham; it is probably the best league in the world so it can't be bad for a 19 year old to be playing in it.

"It has been great so far and if I'd said at the start of the season, knowing I wasn't going to be starting very often, what my aims were I'd have probably said a couple of goals.

"But to get 10 goals so far is good, and hopefully I can get a few more.

"The only target I have got really is to get myself in the team; if I do play and don't get any injuries, touch wood, it would be great to get a few more goals - that would do me nicely.

"I would love to start games and it would be great to play with Paolo and Fredi; I don't know how Glenn could do it but they are great players."

There have been suggestions that he could make a late bid for the World Cup squad this summer but Jermain, while flattered, is keen to play such a notion down.

"You think about it because people talk about it, but you just carry on working hard and leave it down to the football.

"I don't think I need to talk too much about it, just let the football do the talking; it is not down to me, it is down to the manager - he is the main man!"

Doubtless Hammers fans would compare Jermain favourably with Darius Vassell and Michael Ricketts, who both made England debuts in Holland recently, and Jermain says:

"It has happened for them and he got his goal; I was pleased for them. "I would love to get my chance and just show what I can do but whether that comes or not we will just have to wait and see what happens."

Jermain was on U21 duty in Slovakia in the international break but was substituted after 60 minutes.

England won 1-0 and Jermain recalls:

"It was a weird game, very different; it was only a friendly but it was still nice to win 1-0."

David Platt reportedly said that it was good for the players to be in a lower grade hotel and playing in a working class area, and Jermain adds:

"We weren't going there for a holiday, we were going to win a football match, which is what we did."

His thoughts are simply on domestic glory right now, and he says:

"We have had a little break and now we are looking forward to the game.

"At Bolton, they got the first goal and then made it really difficult for us; towards the end all we could do was go long and it was a hard game to play in.

"There weren't many chances and they were defending so deep, on the edge of their box, and me and Fredi couldn't get in behind them.

"There was nowhere to run really, and there were no channels, and the ball was just coming to feet whereas I prefer to run in behind because that's how you get goals.

"You can't really blame it on the pitch; it wasn't the best but at the end of the day it was bad for them as well.

"I am disappointed; we knew it would be difficult but it was a good opportunity and now we are just looking forward to Middlesbrough at home.

"Everyone plays so well at home but when we go away, for some reason it is just not the same.

"We definitely want to get into Europe and achieve things as a club and it is important to repeat the Upton Park form away as well - but it helps being in front of the home fans.

"Everyone let themselves down at Bolton because no one played well, but I feel I played well against Chelsea, and now I have to do it against Middlesbrough."

Meanwhile, Jermain is delighted that Glenn Roeder has been offered a new contract at West Ham, and says:

"All the youngsters know Glenn will give you a chance; he has done really well and he deserves it.

"I speak to him all the time in his office; we talk about how things are going.

"If we all stay together, and there are more young players coming through like Glen Johnson, the future of West Ham looks really bright."