Kk: A Test Of Nerve

Under-17s coach Kevin Keen believes that the first team have to hold their nerve if they are to successfully get the results to keep the club in the Premiership.

Kevin, who played for the reserves in their win over Leicester City on Tuesday night, is not planning a first team comeback just yet, but he is - naturally - keeping a close eye on how they are doing having been the veteran of a few battles at West Ham himself over the years.

"They have got to keep going and keep their heads," he says. "There is a firm belief that they are going to be fine and get out of it but it is going to take a lot of hard work and a few bits of skill.

"There is a lot of talent but you look at the other teams down there and there is talent - and you have got teams that will work their socks off like West Brom and Sunderland, who all run themselves into the ground, while Bolton have got a few players that are a little bit different.

"I am hoping that perhaps Fulham and Birmingham can get dragged into it as well but we need a couple of wins ourselves for that to happen."

The FA Youth Cup game with Norwich on Wednesday evening, which comprises some players from his side and some from Tony Carr's under-19s, kicks off at 7pm and Kevin is anticipating a tough match.

"It will be a difficult game. We have had a couple of looks at Norwich and it is going to be a very physical, tough battle, but I am glad we are at home," he says.

"We are looking forward for an opportunity to go a little bit further and hopefully get the spirits of the club up a little bit.

"It is not going to affect the first team that much but it obviously helps the people around the place, and it is really important for the lads involved, Tony, and myself.

"The team four years ago did very well with Joe Cole in it and he and other players went on to really high things - so this is another chance to make a name for themselves."

Of his under-17 side, he says: "They all work very hard and some improve quicker than others but that is the nature of the game.

"Out of 10 we took this year you hope that one, possibly two, will make it through to the first team. There are a couple on track, so let's hope they keep going."

The latest role model in that regard is Glen Johnson, and Kevin is delighted he has made it into the first team although, as Kevin only arrived in the summer, he didn't work with him at youth level.

"It is brilliant. All the lads are quite excited about it because it is another young lad that has come through the ranks and been given a chance at an early age - and that is why West Ham has such a good reputation for bringing through young players," he says.

"I didn't see much of the Man United game but I thought against Liverpool he did excellent. He got forward well, and he defended well."

Team: Sealey, Laws, Tattum, A Ferdinand (capt), Ward, Lumsden, Collington, G Carrick, Morris, Pearson, M Cole. Subs: Blewitt, Bunce, McClenahan, M Noble, Wright, Parrington.

The goalkeeping substitute will be either Matthew Reed or Darren Behcet.