Stech stepping up

Marek Stech has made some giant strides forward this season and is looking forward to another awayday trip with the senior squad.

The 18-year-old is set to travel with the first team again to Hull City this weekend, having been involved in the matchday set-up against Bolton Wanderers before just missing out on the 18 - although Robert Green will retain the No1 jersey on Sunday after resuming full training following his withdrawal from the England squad with a sore knee.

Stech has started for the reserves in their previous two matches against West Bromwich Albion and Fulham and is focused only on applying pressure on Green and Jan Lastuvka in the West Ham United pecking order. "It's great training with the first team as you get good experience," said Stech, who signed a new five-year deal in the summer to underline how highly regarded he is at the Boleyn Ground. "You see the atmosphere on the pitch. It's great to train with the first team and to be with the players before and after the game. It's a nice experience even just to warm up before the game."

The Czech youth international had the experience of playing with several full internationals in the West Brom game, before lining up with some of his peers in a more youthful side for the Fulham match. "For the Fulham match we had a young squad and it is good for us. We want to play for the reserves to get more experience. If we can do well, the manager will give us a chance to play in reserve games, push ourselves on and see what happens."

The 6'4 goalkeeper, who more than impressed in playing three times for the first team during pre-season, is being mentored at the club by his compatriot Ludek Miklosko and is learning a lot from the goalkeeping coach. "Ludo's unbelievable. Every day we work hard and on the training pitch and he is a fantastic coach."

Miklosko watched Stech play in the defeat by Fulham and the former United No1 was pleased by what he saw, despite the wet weather not making it an ideal night. "The conditions and lighting made it very difficult for the players and goalkeepers as well. I cannot blame him for any of the goals as it was just one of those games," Miklosko said.

"There are definitely some positives to take and it was a good experience for him. We had a very young team up against a much more experienced side. The boys need to learn and this was a game from which they really could learn."