Britton Hopes For Greatness

Young midfielder Leon Britton says he will know next season if he is going to forge a first team career at Upton Park.

"I have got two years left on my contract," he says, "but next year I will see where I am going.

"If I don't get a look in then I will probably be thinking that my chance won't come along at West Ham.

"So it is a big season next year - and fingers crossed that it goes well."

Leon no longer qualifies to play for the under-19s, and adds: "I am finished for the youth team now as I am too old, so hopefully I can go out on loan or I should be playing regularly in the reserves - and we will see how it goes from there."

Leon says he is happy to carry on learning in the reserves - a more likely route than going out on loan, a policy Glenn Roeder pursues but sparingly - and explains that last season was a vast improvement on playing for the second string in the previous campaign: "No disrespect to the players like Christian Basilla, Kaba Diawara, and some of the older foreigners, but they come in and don't really try, whereas this season we have had a younger squad with people like Shaun Byrne, Richard Garcia, Omer Riza, Newton, Izzie Iriekpen...mainly English boys as well, and everyone has been together.

"We has quite a decent team, and in the three seasons I have been here it has been the best side, and it has been a much better spirit amongst the lads.

"The way things are going I think I have been doing all right when I have played in the reserves, and hopefully things will continue to progress."

Leon, who cuts a diminutive, if skilful, dash in the midfield, insists his lack of inches is not a problem, and adds: "There are a few players in the league who aren't giants and there are disadvantages as well as advantages of being tall just as there are of being small.

"Obviously I can't win a lot of headers and be as strong as a lot of players, but maybe I am quick and nimble, so it does work both ways."

He knows competition in the middle of the park is fierce, and adds: "We have got Joe Cole who has gone to the World Cup, Michael Carrick who has already played for England, plus Don Hutchison and Trevor Sinclair - it is probably the strongest part of the team.

"It is hard with that good strong midfield, and you have got to be a good player to break through, but you look at Richard Garcia who has been on the bench so often and has come on, and it shows that if you are good enough the manager will put you on."

Leon is delighted that Joe Cole is with the England squad for the World Cup, and adds: "I went to Lilleshall with Joe, though he was a year above me. He has done terrific getting in the World Cup squad, and the whole season he has been thinking about it.

"He deserved to go because he has been playing so well for the first team - hopefully he will get his chance to start out there and do well.

"I try to copy his tricks but they don't come off - he has got some tricks on him."

He is also pleased that Glenn Roeder had such a successful first season in charge of West Ham, and adds: "You think at the beginning of the season when we lost 7-1 and 5-0 everyone was crying out for Glenn to get the sack with everyone saying we are going to get relegated.

"But he has turned it round, and look at how few goals we conceded at home to finish seventh, above teams like Villa and Tottenham without spending a lot of money.

"I think the gaffer has done a good job."