AFTER regaining his fitness Academy graduate Chris Cohen is now looking forward to progressing with a career that has already been full of promise.
Chris found first-team recognition as a 16-year-old when he made his League debut against Sunderland in December 2003. His full debut against Derby County followed in April 2004 as the England Youth international's career blossomed.
However, Chris' progress slowed last season, due in part to injury problems towards the end of the campaign which he is now just overcoming.
Back fit, and once again impressing at Reserve team level, the 18-year-old is determined to kick-on to the next level, which will probably involved going out on loan to gain some regular first-team experience.
"I was meant to be going out on loan during pre-season," he explained, "but with my injury it was difficult.
"Now I think I'll have a couple of weeks at West Ham getting fit and then hopefully something can be sorted out where I can go out on loan and get some games.
"I'll just have to wait and see what happens really. But I'm pleased to be back playing in the Reserves.
"A loan move is probably the next step for me. Although I enjoy my football at Reserve team level it's pretty important for me to get first-team experience, because it will help my development as a player to be playing senior football every week."
But despite his desires for a short-term loan, Chris is still determined to make it at Upton Park.
"Hopefully my future will definitely still be with West Ham United," he admitted. "There is nothing more I want than to play for West Ham because it's the Club I have supported all my life.
"I obviously love the Club and my aim is to break into the first-team on a regular basis.
"Anything can happen in football and I've just got to bide my time and see what happens.
"All I really want to concentrate on is playing as well as I can whoever it's for.
"I certainly feel a lot fitter than I was last season, which was a bit of a poor season compared with the one before, which was fantastic breaking into the first-team.
"All I can do is try my hardest and then hopefully it will work out."
As a graduate of the Hammers Academy, Chris has been impressed with the latest crop of players that are coming through at Upton Park.
He played with many of them in the Reserves against Southampton, and believes that Tony Carr has another talented group of players on his hands.
"There is an awful lot of talent coming through at the Club," he confirmed. "Obviously I know all about the likes of Kyel Reid, David Cowley, Hogan Ephraim and that age group from playing with them last year.
"But the year with Zavon Hines, Jack Jeffery and Jack Collison also looks a really exciting group. You've also got the two boys on the left there, Lorcan Fitzgerald and Joe Widdowson, so that could be a strong group.
"They have a lot of pace in the team and I think they could have a good chance in the Youth Cup this year. In a Cup competition, with the right draws you never know what could happen."
Back to his own future, Chris is still hopeful that he can become an established central midfielder, despite playing at centre-back in the last two Reserve games.
"I prefer centre midfield," he admitted, "because from there you can get forward score and create.
"But I don't mind to be honest. I enjoy playing on the left and at centre-half. I just want to get playing regularly and hopefully get some first-team football."
Cohen's Loan Star