SO far, 2005 has proved to be something of a whirlwind year for Academy graduate Trent McClenahan.
After notching another first-team appearance in the 2-0 win at Ipswich Town on New Year's Day, Trent flew out to the Solomon Islands to captain the Australian Under-20 team through an Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament.
Arriving back in England last Friday the 20-year-old defender barely had time to shake off the jet-lag when he was called into the first-team squad for the Championship clash with Cardiff.
Reflecting on a busy month, the down to earth Aussie refuses to get carried away with his recent progress, insisting that he's achieved nothing in the game yet.
"It's been a great month," he confessed, "and I've really enjoyed it. I got back to England Friday morning and was suffering from jet-lag. I slept most of Friday and then went into training on Saturday to find out I was in the first-team squad.
"It was fantastic, because I never expected to come straight back and go into the senior squad.
"I'm pleased with the way things have gone recently, but it's important not to get carried away. I've been at West Ham nearly three years and it's taken a lot of hard work for me to get to this point.
"But my aim is to be playing regularly for the first-team and to do that I have to keep training hard and concentrate on doing my best in the Reserves.
"I want to get to the top, and I know there is still a long way to go."
Such a determined attitude is typical of Trent, who arrived at the Club as a 16-year-old having left his home in Australia to pursue his dream of a career in professional football. He topped the Reserve team appearance charts last season with 21 games, and has made the step-up into the first-team this term with three appearances for Alan Pardew's side. Trent agrees that he's come a long way - and not just in air miles - over the last few years.
"When I first arrived at the Club I don't think I ever imagined that I'd get to this point," he confessed. "I've experienced so many highs and lows during that time, but all I've ever try to do is work hard and do the best I possibly can.
"I'd like to think that I'm seeing the reward for that effort now. But I can't let it stop here. Hopefully, this will only be the beginning. I've made a few appearances for the first-team, but that's nothing and my aim is to be playing regularly for the senior side.
"It's not easy, there are a lot of good players in the squad, but I've made some encouraging progress so far this season and hopefully I can keep that going."
When he does make a full-time first-team breakthrough, Trent will certainly have experience dealing with big crowds. An estimated 25,000 people packed into a very loose definition of a stadium to watch the Australia Under-20s take on the Solomon Islands in the Final of the Oceania Qualifying Tournament. But, as Trent explains, the match was abandoned thanks to some pretty bizarre crowd trouble.
"We were 2-0 up at half-time," he began, "and early in the second-half, with the match pretty much over, the crowd started to get a bit rowdy.
"There was a big hill where all the spectators were and on top of the hill a small group of people started throwing rocks down into the crowd. To escape peopled started spilling out onto the pitch.
"The game was stopped for about five minutes while the security sorted it out, but the rock throwing obviously continued and the game was abandoned!
"The trip was a good experience, though. As one of the better teams in the Oceania region there is a lot of pressure on Australia to get results and you have to stay focused. It was a learning experience and a great honour to captain my country.
"Now I can look forward to the Under-20 World Cup in Holland in June and then, hopefully, securing a regular place in the West Ham United first-team."
Trent's Rock Solid