Payne's progress

A year ago, Josh Payne was West Ham United's Under-18 captain and looking forward to a season of youth and reserve-team football.

Just 12 months later, the teenager has made two Barclays Premier League appearances and has spent the pre-season as part of Gianfranco Zola's first-team squad. Payne joined the Hammers on their Austrian training camp before heading to China, where he appeared against Beijing Guoan in the Barclays Asia Trophy.

"There were no holidays out there," the 18-year-old told WHUTV. "We would train in the morning, go back to the hotel for lunch and then train again in the afternoon.

"It's been hard work and it's been tiring trying to get used to the time differences, but it's been good to be involved in it."

Having graduated from the Academy to the first-team squad - via a successful loan spell at League One side Cheltenham Town last autumn - in such a short space of time, Payne could be forgiven for letting it all go to his head.

Living at the club's Youth House with three team-mates means there is no chance that the midfielder will take his eye off the ball.

Payne's latest opportunity to shine came in a West Ham United XI pre-season friendly at Bishop's Stortford - a game watched by the club's entire first-team coaching staff.

"You look back and you see how quickly it's gone, so you have to make the most of the time. You've got to appreciate where you are and never take your foot off the pedal. You've got to keep going. I've just got to keep working hard and when I get my chance I've got to prove myself.

"Working under Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke is brilliant. Going into work, you know you're going to get a good training session and get something out of it every day."

To watch Payne's WHUTV interview in full, click here