Alan: Chris Is Ready

Alan Pardew reckons that the time is right for Chris Cohen to train on a regular basis with the first team pool - and just wishes he could have made his debut against West Brom last week.

Chris, who played for England U17s against Switzerland last week, was on the bench for the first time for the West Brom match, and Alan insists:

"I don't want anyone to think it was a gimmicky move; we were short of bodies to be honest and I felt that if I lost Matthew Etherington I would have nothing down the left hand side.

"I have only seen a little bit of him but he has impressed me immensely.

"He has got a great focus on the game and he doesn't look the nervy type so I made him train with the first team on the Friday before the game which he dealt very well with.

"He is going to be a very big player for us and he has had his first taste of it.

"He can't say that the first time he was involved wasn't eventful - he certainly saw some sights in the changing room he wouldn't have seen before and that is all good for him.

"You need to experience those sorts of days and you grow on the back of those if you are the right type of player - which he is; he will have sucked all that in and become all the stronger for it."

Alan feels Chris has the physical attributes necessary to contribute and adds:

"His body is with him; you can't play a 16 year old if their body is not there but he is quite a strong lad, direct, and a positive person.

"I like people like that and it was nice to see him in there."

Alan reveals that Chris would have come on if West Ham had held on to their commanding lead and adds:

"It is a shame that the day didn't turn out great for us because it would have been a nice bonus to have got him on the pitch when we were in control of the game - but that didn't happen.

"I spoke to Tony Carr and said that he needs to train with us now and he will do; he was on international duty but when he came back he is now training with the full squad - and he will progress certainly much quicker that way.

"Who knows? He might feature not just the once but two or three times this year - let's hope so."

Alan is pleased with the progress at the academy and is hoping for many weekends where the U19s, U17s, and the first team all win - as would have been the case if West Ham had beaten West Brom.

"It could have been a perfect weekend for us because we had the two good results after I had taken one of their top players as well," he says.

"It was a good weekend but you can't be distracted from the issues that are in the first team at the moment; that is my priority and that is where it will stay until such time as we are on a run and everybody knows what their jobs are.

"I am looking at the team and people are telling me we have Premiership players but the fact is we are not, we are in the first division and those players playing for West Ham are first division players now.

"We have all got to dig very deep this year with the rest of the 46 games; it is a huge mountain and there are so many games to go and so many points to play for.

"We are still in a position to win this league even from where we are at the moment - but we need to get our heads round it and we need to improve the squad.

"We certainly need to increase the numbers and I really felt we missed a voice out on the pitch on Saturday.

"Lomas and Rufus would have been great for us on Saturday; they are not far away.

"Although at the moment people aren't feeling too great about themselves - we aren't, the fans aren't, the people who work around the club aren't - they can look to the future with confidence because I am certainly going to make sure that from now on those events that happened the week before are few and far between."