Keen on new season hopes

Kevin Keen is looking forward once again to the challenges a new season brings as he prepares to lead a West Ham United XI in action away to Billericay Town this weekend.

The coach will be putting some of the club's younger players through their paces before the reserves really get down to business in September. The opening game of the Barclays Reserve League South will see the team up against Chelsea, a contest that will certainly make for an exciting start as the team look to replicate last season's form when they challenged for the title until the very last game.

"Chelsea have a strong contingent of young players and field a good side most times, so it will be a tough match to kick off the season with," said Keen. "But we want to start where we finished off and as we ended last year on a really strong note that is what we are looking to carry on. The experience the younger lads have gained in playing at this level already will stand them in good stead this year and the aim will be to play as well as we can, get the results and finish as high as we can in the league table.

"You never know what sort of team you will face, sometimes clubs will have a very experienced side and other times, they will have a very young in-experienced side. But we will just go out there and take on who is against us and give it our best at all times." After the visit to Chelsea, West Ham United take on West Bromwich Albion, Fulham and Arsenal in the first few matches and Keen said he is looking forward to visiting some of the grounds as they will bring back memories of his playing days. Not least will be a certain Britannia Stadium, a ground he knows well after playing for Stoke City between 1994 and 2000.

"It is nice to see where some of these games are to be played, there are some top stadiums, Brentford, Orient, Villa Park, so the boys will benefit and enjoy that," said Keen. "For myself, one of the grounds I am particularly looking forward to going to is the Britannia Stadium - a place where I spent the best part of five and a half years, so that will be good going back there. It's always quite nice returning to a place you have spent time playing yourself and there are few people who I will look forward to seeing again."

Keen said there is a good mix of players coming through coupled with those who are have quite a bit of experience under their belt. "We progressed well last year. I feel with the lads who will play a regular part again in the reserves this year and more coming through to take their chance, we have the makings of a good side and there's no reason why we can't push on."