DEFENDER Clive Clarke returned from injury to play 90 minutes as the Reserve beat Portsmouth and admitted that he was delighted to be back in action after an ankle injury frustrated his first month at Upton Park.
Clive signed from Stoke City for £250,000, but has so far seen his first-team chances limited due to ankle ligament damage. But he turned in a solid display on his return to competitive action at Fratton Park and is now looking forward to pushing for a place in Alan Pardew's team.
"It felt good to be back," he said. "I have only been back in training for just over a week and it was my first 90 minutes of the season. It was also good to be back amongst the lads, because being out injured for a month has been pretty frustrating.
"I damaged ligaments in my ankle. I did have a problem with it about six or seven months ago, but unfortunately it re-occured during pre-season. It all felt okay during the Portsmouth game though so I'm confident that I'm over it now.
"We played well against Portsmouth and I was impressed with some of the young players in the side. Kyel Reid on the left wing and Jemel Henry at right-back both stood out, but it looks like the Club have got a few really excellent young players."
With his competitive debut for the Hammers now complete, Clive can concentrate on making an impact on Alan Pardew's first-team squad having been forced to watch from the sidelines so far.
"First of all I need a couple of Reserve games under my belt," he said. "The international break will be a good chance to get some training done and then I'll be pushing as hard as I can to get in the first-team.
"Obviously the team have made a really good start so it's going to be difficult. But hopefully once I get my chance then I can step in and do a good job.
"I've been in the last two matchday squads and I've travelled with the team. But I haven't played much football, so my aim is really to get into the 16 first of all and then hopefully break into the starting 11 eventually."
Clive was managed for his Reserve team debut by Kevin Keen, but it isn't the first time the pair have teamed up. Clive actually knew the Hammers coach while Kevin was a player at Stoke between 1994 and 2000.
"We played together for a season or two at Stoke," revealed Clive. "Kevin saw me come through the ranks at Stoke so he knows me pretty well.
"I don't know whether he had any input on the Club signing me. I think that Alan Pardew was already looking at me, but I'm sure Kevin gave his opinion - I can only hope that it was a good one!"