Walker keeping himself in the frame

Jimmy Walker admits he will certainly remember his second Premiership appearance with more fondness than his first!

After recovering from his serious knee injury, the Hammers goalkeeper was handed his top-flight debut last month as Alan Pardew's men faced relegation strugglers Portsmouth at Upton Park…and ended up on the wrong end of a 4-2 hammering.

However, having waited four weeks for his next chance between the sticks, the 32-year-old enjoyed a much more satisfying afternoon, with an impressive display in Saturday's 1-0 win over Manchester City.

"It was great to keep a clean sheet and end up with three points," he said afterwards. "I'd been itching to get out there after working so hard and it was a big disappointment to let in four goals against Portsmouth, so this result has helped make up for that.

"I thought the lads in front of me were superb against City. The two centre-halves were exceptional and the full-backs did their jobs well. Lionel made one fantastic block to stop Samaras smashing it into the net from about eight yards out - and I was celebrating that more than our goal to be honest!

"It was nice to make a couple of decent saves that helped play a part in the win and I've said all along that I'll just be happy to do whatever I can to help the team."

Whether Jimmy keeps his place for this afternoon's clash against our FA Cup semi-final opponents Middlesbrough remains to be seen but, following Alan Pardew's claim that he is now putting pressure on Shaka Hislop for the starting spot at Villa Park next Sunday, the former Walsall stopper admits he couldn't be happier.

"That's all I can do," he says. "I said at Christmas that any part I could play this season would be an absolute bonus and thankfully the hard work has paid off. Shaka has been absolutely fantastic this year, though, and I'm just delighted to have been given a chance.

"Four months ago, I wasn't sure if I would play at all this season, so to be in with a chance of playing in an FA Cup semi-final is unbelievable - the kind of thing you dream about as a kid.

"Obviously I would love to be in the team next Sunday but if I'm not, I'll be right behind Shaka 100% and desperate for the lads to get the result that will take us to Cardiff again."