James: The Future Is Bright

James Walker reckons the future is in good hands at West Ham - and he aims to be part of it.

James made his first team debut in the Coca Cola Cup against Southend recently - with fellow new boys Elliot Ward and Mark Noble - and he says:

"Elliot Ward could go on to be a great defender; he is very strong and can only get better."

Trent McClenahan made his first home appearance that day and James adds:

"Trent made a good debut at Crewe and did a good job against Southend - it all bodes well."

James had not had the opportunity to train with Elliot prior to the Southend game as he had been on loan at Peterborough but he adds:

"You normally get the chance to do some work and it was a bit patched up but the lads are all clued up and know the score - they are all good players and did well in what was a real test towards the end.

"I enjoyed getting the first game under my belt and it was nice I could use my experience to help the young lads - who I thought did tremendously well, to be fair.

"It was a patched up side, and a no-win game really that could have bit us on the bum, so to speak.

"But I think we played really well, especially in the first half, and you can see the quality in the side of the young lads, who are the future of the club."

As for his own game that evening, he adds:

"It was nice to get the adrenalin back, put it that way, because for the last nine or 10 years I have been playing as an automatic first choice.

"But I knew this challenge would be here and I am enjoying working hard; I am probably in the best shape I have been in and hopefully I can play my part.

"I had a nice ovation from the fans against Southend which was good; I had a special relationship with the fans at Walsall and hopefully if I work hard I can get that with the West Ham supporters as well.

"I think it came across against Southend that they really got behind the young lads and that can make a difference.

"It is a big bonus to have that passion on our side and I think the fans just want the players to do well for the supporters."

And giving the fearsome Tomas Repka the odd shout?

"Tommy is all right; he is passionate and I think he has been top man this year - he helps the young lads, and you can't buy his experience," says James.

"I think it is nice that the youngsters can learn from the win over Southend."

As for his battle with Steve Bywater for a starting place, he adds:

"I obviously want to play and there is no point me saying otherwise; if you look at every team in the league there are two keepers who want to play and I am no different.

"I am enjoying my time, the set-up is great and they are really looking after us and I am just looking to take my chance and do well for the club."

And what of Alan Pardew's assertion that he is surprised James didn't get a contract at one of the bigger clubs sooner?

"It would have been nice to get the chance earlier but I had a good grounding at Walsall; a goalkeeper comes into his prime at this age and I have enough experience.

"I feel stronger every season and I feel I have a part to play for the club - and myself.

"We have injuries but whoever is coming in and doing a job can do that; the gaffer has seen for himself now, and if different people need to be used so be it - it is definitely more of a squad game nowadays and the games come thick and fast."