Shaun On Progress

Shaun Byrne hopes that his current injury-free run can help his development as he looks to break through into the first team.

Says Shaun: "I was just speaking about it today with Roger Cross. It is the best run of fitness I have had for three years.

"Hopefully I can keep it going in the reserves because we haven't lost for about six games."

Detailing the catalogue of injuries that have hampered his progress, Shaun - a former youth team contemporary of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick - recalls: "It all started with the FA Youth Cup in 1999 when I missed the last two games - the semi-final and the final - after I did my knee.

"I then kept having repercussions with it, and then I tore my cartilage in the same knee, which was a simple injury - but because of the problems I had had with my knee before it took longer than I expected.

"Once you are out for a while you pick up little knocks and niggles - the groin, the hamstring - and it was a case of all that happening.

"But I seem to be over the worst of it and hopefully I can carry on progressing now."

Shaun is determined to show that he can recapture the promise he showed in that FA Youth Cup winning year and he adds: "It was good for the boys and though I was still involved, which was nice, you want to be out there playing - especially with it being such a good win and so many people being at the home game.

"I still think I am good enough but the way things have gone with the first team Glenn is not going to throw many young kids into the frame when they are struggling.

"But to be fair to him, he is keeping me involved in training and on the away trips - so I am still part of the squad.

"But, getting to my age, 22, I do need to start playing games and progressing because time is catching up with me now.

"I have got another season after this one and I do want to stay at West Ham. I like it here so much and I have been here since I was eight.

"My ambition is to play for West Ham; sometimes things don't work and if I have to move I have to move.

"But it has been good lately playing in central midfield, and I feel I have been playing the best I have done recently for the reserves.

"I used to get thrown everywhere in the reserves - left wing, left back, right back - but I have been sticking to this one position, it has come off, and I have been doing really well.

"They have all been saying they are pleased with me so hopefully I can continue on in the centre of midfield."

A change in the club's status, with the inevitable overhaul of personnel that would bring, might enhance his chances of breaking through, but he insists: "Of course you don't want that. You want the team to stay up and be playing at the highest level.

"It would be a shame if we do go down but I really can't see it; the boys are on a little run at the moment and hopefully that can continue and we will stay up.

"We still have a lot to do but in the last two games we have looked better, more organised, and we have got the results which is the main thing.

"I hope we can take it on from there, take it game by game, catch Bolton, and stay up."

He says any criticisms in the media has not affected the players, and insists: "It doesn't really bother us at the training ground because we know what we have got to do - you have got to block all that stuff out.

"It is more on the shoulders of the players who are playing in the first team every week but you just get through it.

"The mood down there has been good all the time, even when we were bottom of the league.

"Obviously it gets to you a bit but you can't sulk about it - you have to get on with the job.

"And, to be fair to Glenn, he has tried to do things with the boys to get them going, and they are all good lads with a great spirit - so it is easy to get through.

"All I am worried about is staying fit, keep playing, hopefully in midfield for the reserves - which I think I will do - and keep progressing.

"That is all I can do myself - and after that it is up to the gaffer and everyone else."