Izzie: I'm Stronger

Izzie Iriekpen returns to Upton Park after finishing his loan spell at Leyton Orient this weekend - and says he is ready to challenge for a first team slot with the the Hammers.

It is not the arrogance of youth talking, just the quiet, firm, self-belief of a player who has come through the trials and tribulations of a serious injury to finally break through into league football this season.

Izzie is well aware that there is a huge gulf between the third division - and the wrong end of it at that - and the Premiership, and he just smiles when it is pointed out to him that the away trip to Old Trafford coming up is a stark reminder of the time when, under Harry Redknapp three years ago, he nearly made his debut as a 16 year old there before the final whistle robbed him of the chance.

A serious knee injury followed which came very close to finishing his career but he says:

"I don't even think about my knee any more."

Izzie, who missed the O's exit from the FA Cup at Margate this week with a groin problem, will bow out at Boston United at the weekend if he is fit.

"'We' have had a bad results but hopefully we will get something at Boston on Saturday," he says.

"It is a good experience for me and better than reserve football; it does help, no doubt.

"I haven't played league football before and it is definitely quicker than the reserves - and because you are playing for points with a crowd it is definitely different from the reserves.

"The timing is important and you head the ball a lot in the third division - that side of my game has definitely improved."

Soon the huge task of getting into the Hammers' first team will come, and he says:

"I want to go back to West Ham; it is frustrating not being in the side but there is nothing you can do about it, and I am just waiting for a chance.

"I spoke to the gaffer and he said he has to go with experience at the moment, which I can understand.

"I know I can handle myself, but it is just about playing different strikers every week; I know I am young, but I just hope I get the chance because I am confident in my ability."

As for the club's current plight, he says:

"I don't know why we are down there and it is not my place to say - but we have got so many talented players in that team and the boys are good enough to get us out of things.

"I think we should get three points on Monday and once we get that win we will take from there."