Luke's Premier Year

LUKE Chadwick celebrated a successful first year at Upton Park with a triumphant return to the Premiership.

The 24-year-old winger dropped out of the top-flight to join the Hammers, having made his big-time breakthrough at Manchester United.

Now the former England Under-21 star can look forward to playing at Old Trafford again next season, and admits promotion capped a fine first season at Upton Park.

"It was a brilliant way to end the season," said Luke, who arrived on a free transfer in August 2004. "It's been a really enjoyable first season for me and to go up by winning the Play-off Final at Cardiff was a fantastic end, especially for all the fans who have been terrific for us this year.

"All the lads are really looking forward to getting back and putting in the work to get ready for the Premier League. It isn't very often that players look forward to pre-season, but this year we'd all have liked the season to carry on after Cardiff.

"It's obviously going to be a big step up for the squad, but we've got some tremendous young players who have been waiting their whole careers for the chance to play in the top-flight.

"Then there are also a lot of xperienced lads who will help the younger boys and make sure they know what to expect. This is going to be an exciting summer for the Club and when we get back to Chadwell Heath I'm sure the place will be buzzing."

Luke missed out on playing at the Millennium Stadium, but certainly played his part during a tumultuous season for Alan Pardew's men. The winger turned in some memorable performances to, most noteably in the FA Cup against then Premier League Norwich City, underlining Chadwick's quality as a big game player.

Luke admits that he would have liked to play more this season, especially at the Millennium Stadium.

"It was tough to miss out on the Final," he confessed, "but that kind of disappointment will only spur me on. I want to prove that I'm good enough to play for West Ham United and that means working hard in pre-season and hopefully getting back in the side by the time we start our Premiership season.

"I would have liked to have played more games, and I had an injury to my hamstring in February which didn't help. But I think we've got really strong depth in the squad, which helped us when it came down to the final games of the season, and at the end of the day, everyone was made to feel part of the celebrations.

"Now I just want to get back and focus on preparing for the Premier League. I started off playing in the top-flight and it's where every player wants to be. West Ham have come through a lot to get there and we're determined to give it a really good go next season."