Keen happy with progress

Kevin Keen is looking forward to Friday night's meeting with Greek champions Panathinaikos as a chance to take one more step forward this pre-season.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to WHUTV from the training camp in Germany, the first-team coach said the match just across the border in Kitzbuhel, Austria would provide another chance for the squad to continue their positive progress. It will not be easy as the UEFA Champions League contenders are also in good form, having beaten VfL Wolfsburg with a 3-1 success on Tuesday.

"We will have to be ready for Panathinaikos, they are quality opposition," he said. "It is just a training match, we have got to understand that, but it is nice to come through without conceding goals and winning because it breeds confidence.

"There is a bond growing between the players and the staff. I hope that builds because if we can get off to a good start with the fixtures we have got I think we can have a good season."

Keen was particularly looking forward to seeing Thomas Hitzlsperger in action once more with the Germany midfielder already looking every inch Der Hammer. "I am really hopeful that he can play and show West Ham fans what I have seen in training.

"He is a West Ham player. He sees a pass, plays the right weight and angle, doesn't mind a tackle and has a great shot. I hope the fans see that over the coming weeks and months."

Kevin Keen and Avram Grant

A former Hammers favourite himself, Keen is enjoying life on the sidelines although admitted that he never used to mind the intensity of pre-season work. "I don't think it is anywhere near as bad as when I played. There was always the anticipation of going back and working for three weeks as hard as you work for probably the whole the season.

"As a coach it is different, it is all about planning, looking at your numbers and making. I think I would have enjoyed the training now. It has evolved over 10-15 or 20 years ago since I first started. It was a lot more long runs, slogs when you could be running ten miles. Now it is more football-specific, I would have enjoyed this more but I was always an OK runner."

Morale is certainly high in the camp and Keen said there was a very positive outlook for everyone connected to the club. "I wouldn't make any predictions but I do feel that Avram [Grant] has come into the club and it has all run very smoothly. There has not been a big upheaval.

"When a new manager comes in sometimes it can take time. That hasn't happened I think it has gone very smoothly with Avram, Paul Groves and David Coles. The coaching and football has been good. The players have responded well. It has been a smooth transition and I hope that translates into results at the start of the season."