Roger On Reserves

West Ham once again name a young reserve team - this time to face Spurs - but do have six players with limited first team experience involved.

Steve Bywater, Matthew Kilgallon, Youssef Sofiane, Shaun Byrne, Richard Garcia, and David Noble will all get some match practice.

Between them they have 28 appearances, although half that number constitutes substitute appearances. Trent McLenehan, Brent Tattum, Tommy Laws, Phil Lumsden, and Daryl McMahon continue their progress towards the aim of forcing their way through the ranks.

On the bench are Darren Behcet, Greg Pearson, Chris Cohen, Mark Noble, and Graeme Carrick.

The Spurs side includes some stars and lines up thus:

Burch, Marney, Ziege, Kelly, Mabizela, Doherty, Blondel, Dalmat, Barnard, Poyet, Jackson.

Reserve team manager Roger Cross says that, under the circumstances, the second string have made a creditable start to the season - even if they are still seeking that first win.

"We have had two draws and two defeats, one of which I didn't see because Tony Carr took the team at Southampton, but we have been very young this season, even more so than last year, and it is going to be a difficult season for us, there is no doubt about that.

"But I have been quite pleased with the performances, especially the last one against Chelsea, when they had Sullivan in goal and a back four of Melchiot, Huth, Babayaro, Gallas, and Stanic was in there as well.

"It was a tough game for the youngsters and good experience; the young boys enjoyed the challenge and stood up well."

Despite that lack of experience, Roger is confident the boys can cope.

"I don't think we will lose heavily, because, although we let three goals in against Coventry, we don't often do that and we try and build from a clean sheet every game," he says.

"We try and score as well, obviously, but I don't see anyone cutting through us and us taking a heavy defeat."

This despite the absence of central defender Elliot Ward for some time, and about whom Roger says: "Elliot is quite a promising player and he will get over his injury, make no mistake about it, but it is going to take quite some time.

"We had big hopes for Elliot this season; he was already part of the first team squad in preseason before getting injured at Bournemouth.

"I am absolutely certain he will bounce back, though, as football is in his family - his brother plays for Millwall - and he desperately wants to be a player."

Roger is delighted with the youngsters who are playing, though, and adds:

"Against Chelsea we had two 16 year olds playing in young Chris Cohen and Mark Noble, who we think are good players and expected to come through.

"But there have been good performances from all the young players that have come through so far; they have worked very, very, hard and I couldn't single out any of them, really, because on the whole I have been very pleased with them.

"We have been short on players but we are improving on that and we have had to bring in youngsters; Chris Cohen was recommended by the youth coaches and got in the first team squad for the trip to Ipswich recently."

As for first team matters, Roger adds:

"There are some very important games coming up and it is good we got a couple of players in, in Wayne Quinn and Niclas Alexandersson, before Reading.

"A few of the injuries will push along a bit quicker now as well and everyone is looking forward to the games.

"We have only been beaten once this season and we are looking ahead to Crewe now.

"Young Matthew Etherington has done exceptionally well, Rob Lee is such an experienced player and what can you say about him, Kevin Horlock has done ever so well in the games he has played, Neil Mellor and David Connolly are terrific players.

"Matthew Kilgallon coped very well at left back against Ipswich, and now we have Niclas and Wayne who both made good debuts on Saturday.

"It takes time for players to gel and I feel it is only going to get better, and there will be more to come to bolster the squad and give competition for places."

Regarding the managerial situation, he adds:

"It is known who they are pursuing and I am sure they will keep pursuing that person so hopefully they will get the man they want.

"It is difficult but you just get on with your job; you get used to these things in football - you are working for West Ham United which is a wonderful football club."

Roger also pays tribute to Glenn Roeder, under whose managership he served, and says:

"Glenn threw everything into it, and I am sure he will bounce back; I don't think it will be right away as he needs time to get over this but he is very much a football man and he will want to work in football.

"All his thinking time and his time at home, if he wasn't at the ground or Chadwell Heath, was spent on the job, and he would often ring to ask what I thought about things.

"It was a surprise when he left just as it was when Harry left before him.

"But when you have worked in football so long, like I have, you get used to these things and you have just got to carry on and do your job."