Chris Progressing

Chris Cohen knows he has a very long way to go before he can say he has 'arrived' as a professional - but he is becoming less overawed by his colleagues now he has had a taste of first team action.

While that new-found confidence might not yet extend to taking the mickey out of the way Brian Deane wears his woollen hat in training, at least he feels able to say hello to his 'new' colleagues after progressing through the ranks at breakneck speed from the U17s to the first team this campaign.

"They are all really good to you and help you out on the pitch so much - and when you are off it, in training, they talk to you and pass on their experience," says Chris.

Any banter for being half the age of four of the squad?

"There was a bit to start with but it is only in jest and they don't do it any more," smiles Chris.

"I am trying to get a bit more settled in with them now and am saying 'all right?' to them and stuff like that - which I never used to do because I didn't really feel I was part of it.

"Now I am, and that is good for me."

Chris is learning every day and adds:

"It is good to have such experience to help you through it; Brian Deane, for instance, has had a great career and he is one of the main ones to help me out with everything to do with football."

Chris was a second half substitute for Adam Nowland on Saturday, and adds:

"It was good to get back on track; I don't think we have played badly over the last few weeks but we haven't had the best luck, and it was just good to get an early goal to settle us down.

"It wasn't the nicest game to watch, but excellent to win, and it gets us back into the playoff places."

Chris explains that entertainment may have to take a back seat now as the race intensifies.

"Towards the end of the season we know it is not about trying to play nice football," he explains.

"Obviously you are always going to try, but if it doesn't come off and you still win that is the essential part of the day - you have to make sure you get the three points at the end of it, and it helps the confidence.

"All three of the last games are massively important and if we put in the same effort as we did on Saturday I am sure we will come through it."

Next up is a trip to Stoke, who went to West Ham's promotion rivals Sheffield United and won 1-0 at the weekend.

"That was a good result for us," says Chris, "but obviously we know we can't just go there and walk all over them; we have to grind a result out, or whatever.

"Training has been good and we are going to Stoke knowing we need a result - and I think we will get it."

Reaching the playoffs may give Chris even more experience this season, and he adds:

"You want to have as many games as you can; I might not be involved next season but it is just good to be part of the squad."