Steve On Move

Steve Bywater hopes that his loan move to Cardiff - which has now been completed - will be the springboard for progress next season.

Steve, who began the season on loan at Wolves, drove to South Wales on Wednesday afternoon to join up with the players who will be his team mates until the end of the season.

"We have got a few goalies at West Ham, which means it is hard to play every week, so this keeps me involved," he says, "and it is a good opportunity for me to meet new people.

"I'll be involved with the first team, and they have an average gate of 15,000 which is good - and they are going for promotion, though there are only six games left."

As for the competition he temporarily leaves behind at Upton Park, he says: "It doesn't bother me, it's part of the job. You've just got to keep at it and working hard, and I get on with all the other keepers anyway.

"It's competition but you don't think of it as such, you just try and get on with your own job."

Since returning to action after missing much of the season with a hand injury, Steve has had to share reserve team duties with David Forde, signed from Barry Town while he was on the sidelines.

With Sven Andersson and Shaka Hislop also on the Hammers' books, Steve's chances of making it to the bench are limited, and he adds: "To be honest, Sven and Shaka have got so much experience because they have played loads and loads of games, and if they were thrown in at the deep end in the first team they'd be fine, whereas young goalies like me, David Forde, Billy McMahon, and George Sealey need games under our belts to keep ticking over.

"It's important for the younger keepers to play but not so for the older ones, so I'm just going to go there and do my best, enjoy myself and train hard. If I play, I play, and if I don't then it will be good to be involved on the bench.

"The only problem is it's a long drive!"

As for his chances next campaign, and notwithstanding the fact that a decision has to be made about Craig Forrest, currently recuperating from chemotherapy after having had an operation for testicular cancer, Steve says: "I haven't got a clue what will happen next season, I'll just keep playing at West Ham - I've got a year on my contract.

"I don't know what is going to happen, if I will be offered a new deal or not, but I've just got to concentrate on Cardiff and then pre-season really.

"You don't know what is happening with the goalkeepers, whether Craig or Shaka will stay, and he might want to bring other keepers in.

"It's another season and I'm getting a year older so I need to start playing in a couple of years, or getting on the bench anyway."

Meanwhile Steve enjoyed a brief substitute appearance against Italy under-21s on Tuesday night at Valley Parade, and he says: "It was all right, better than nothing. I got 10 minutes, and I have enjoyed the few days meeting up with the lads again."

Again, Steve faces tough competition if he is to earn a place in the England under-21 squad this summer, and he adds: "Paul Robinson is a good goalie who is two years older than me, I think, and I enjoy training with him - and it's something different being with the under-21s.

"Hopefully I will be involved in the tournament but you never know. Chris Kirkland is available, there's Weaver, and a few other keepers playing in their first teams - we'll have to wait and see."