Spector eyes World Cup

Jonathan Spector is away with the United States as they prepare for two friendly matches this week - although he will not be heading out of Europe this time.

The US meet Slovakia this Saturday in Bratislava before heading north to take on Denmark in Aarhus next Wednesday. Spector has established himself as his country's first-choice right-back and helped them to qualify last month for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. Both Slovakia and Denmark will also be at next summer's extravaganza in South Africa as well so it promises to be an illuminating week.

Spector is eager to remain in the forefront of coach Bob Bradley's thoughts, especially as he had the pain of missing out on the 2006 World Cup because of injury. "It would be a huge honour to represent my country on the world stage," he said. "I missed the last one in Germany and the Olympics, so I have had a little bit of misfortune when it comes to international competitions."

He is drawing on the success of this summer's FIFA Confederations Cup for inspiration, one tournament he did have the chance to take part in after overcoming his previous injury hassles. The 23-year-old played all five games at right-back as the US went all the way to the final. He has a total of 21 caps.

Spector, who said his team's triumph against Spain back in July during that top-level competition in South Africa - held as a warm-up for the main event 12 months later - demonstrated they can compete with the best, believed "the most important thing" was for his country to progress from the group stage next summer.

He took his good international form into the domestic season with West Ham United. However, having started the season by playing at left-back in the first three games, Spector then sat out the next five fixtures with Herita Ilunga's return from a fractured jaw suffered on the opening day.

For him to stay in World Cup contention, Spector is aware he has to be playing regularly for his club side. He forced his way back into the starting lineup in his more familiar right-back role for the 2-2 draw against Arsenal three weeks ago and then kept his place there as the team achieved the same result at Sunderland.

Spector dropped to the bench last Wednesday against Aston Villa but got an early call to enter the fray when Ilunga limped off with a hamstring problem. That meant he switched to left-back and he more than played his part in the 2-1 win, keeping his place in Sunday's reverse by the same score at the hands of Everton.

Such a run indicated how invaluable Spector's versatility is to the squad. Although he naturally wants to play every game, he knows it is up to him to prove his worth to the manager. "For any player if they are not playing it is frustrating but you have to keep your chin up. You have to keep working hard and wait for your opportunity. Playing games for West Ham will certainly help me with the national team."