David: Go Glen

David James says the rapid progress of Glen Johnson this season is not something that has caught him unawares - as he spotted the young defender's potential a year ago.

David is West Ham's sole representative in the full England squad for the Euro 2004 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Turkey in the next week, while Glen is with the under-21s for the first time, and David says: "He is good enough. I don't know how many games he has played now, but he doesn't look out of place at all.

"If anything he looks as if he is thoroughly enjoying himself - he is capable.

"I didn't realise how young he was but I thought a lot of him last year and he hasn't surprised me.

"This year he has been ready, and, to use the typical cliche, he has kept his head down.

"He is constantly trying in training and does extra work, and it is paying dividends now."

West Ham's third successive clean sheet on Saturday gives them the best defensive figures of any Premiership team for the month of March and means as many clean sheets have been kept this month as in the previous seven months of Premiership action.

It helps claw back the goals against column which had gone to eight more goals than any other team in the division and has provided the first shut-outs for 18 games.

"Apparently it is the first time in four seasons so it was doubly good," says David, "but it was not my doing - the defence was spot on again.

"In the last five games it has been really good, or six now I think about it, with the Leeds game.

"The work we have done in training has had a major influence; we as a defence know what we are doing.

"And as a team we know what we are doing with regards to the defence, and as a result we are not letting many goals in.

"But I still have sleepless nights!"

David looks likely to make his competitive debut for England in Vaduz on Saturday after 11 caps in friendlies, almost 13 years after his professional debut for Watford, and in front of less people - there will be just 3,548 fans in Liechtenstein at the weekend.

"Team performance is going to influence you somewhere down the line and, with three clean sheets and four unbeaten matches since the Australia game, I feel good," he says.

"If you're top of the league and catching two crosses a week and not doing much else, you'll have loads of clean sheets and look impressive, statistically.

"The flip side is that, if you're bottom of the league, you have loads to do.

"It is a Catch-22 situation - pardon the pun - f you are top of the league and catching two crosses a week then you have stats that look impressive, but if you are bottom of the league and have lots to do you could be playing well but it doesn't look as good.

"I'm happy at the moment because the results are going well, I feel good in myself, and I am a lot more confident in myself.

"But I wouldn't have been surprised if I had been omitted from the squad for the Australia game recently, or hadn't played, because I'd let in an average of two goals a game.

"We were bottom of the league, and for England's number one to be in that position doesn't quite sound right, but since then, the performances have gone well though - and I think West Ham are going to stay up.

"It's a chance for me on Saturday but every time you play for England, it becomes a trial. If the performance isn't right, someone else is going to have an opportunity and that's the way it should be - there are no guarantees.

"But this is not going to be the start of my international career as such, because I have been around for five years.

"To represent England at any level is an honour - but to play a game with consequence really is fulfilling your professional ambition."

Davis still has half an eye on the domestic battle that lies ahead after he returns from international duty, and he says: "I was confident before but the performances are even better now. Three clean sheets and unbeaten in four is pleasing, and I feel good.

"Against Sunderland, I had very little to do but you still have to concentrate.

"Beyond that I have not had many chances to watch this season, but in training, when we practice team formations, I stand around for 30 minutes, which I guess is good practice."