Fry feeling good

Matt Fry has reflected on a positive season and is looking forward to a bright future.

The West Ham United defender, who spent the season on loan at League One clubs Gillingam and Charlton Athletic, has agreed a new contract with the club he has represented since he was eleven.

Now 19, the centre-back is aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow Academy graduates James Tomkins and Jordan Spence by forcing his way into the Hammers first-team picture.

Fry spent the early part of the season at Gillingham, where he excelled in 13 league and cup appearances. Following his departure from the Kent club in January, Gillingham dropped down the standings and were relegated to League Two on the final day of the season.

The teenager suffered a knee injury in his final game for the Gills at Exeter on 28 December. Despite the problem, however, Charlton manager Phil Parkinson moved to sign Fry on loan until the end of the season in March.

At The Valley, the Gravesend-born youngster worked his way back to fitness. However, Football League rules barring the fielding of more than five loan players restricted his chances of first-team football.

On Monday evening, Fry was named among the Addicks' subsitutes for the first time as they lost on penalties to Swindon Town in a thrilling play-off semi-final.

Matt Fry

"It's been good, even if it was an up and down season with my knee injury and not playing too often at Charlton. At times it was frustrating, but it was certainly beneficial for me to go out on loan to Gillingham and Charlton. I count the season as a success.

"Being offered a new contract has made the whole season worthwhile. I only signed for a year last season, so earning a longer deal was obviously my main aim. I have got two years, but that does not mean I am going to stop working hard every day in training. I am under no illusions. I want to get back to West Ham and to earn myself an even longer contract.

"Even though I had my knee injury, I made a good decision to go to Charlton. The manager rang me up and said I would play when I was fit. Unfortunately, it took a little bit longer to get it right, so I wasn't able to play in a team challenging for promotion.

"I was always going to be the sixth loan player as the manager was never going to pick me over a fully-fit loan player.

"I see it as a blessing in disguise, though, because it has given me time to get myself completely right and come back stronger. It was unfortunate that I didn't get a chance to play at Charlton, but just being involved and training hard every day with the squad has been of benefit to me."

Matt Fry

While Fry's outlook is relentlessly positive, defeat by Swindon may have denied him the opportunity to make an unforgettable Charlton debut in the play-off final with Millwall at Wembley.

"The manager told me he was putting me on the bench against Swindon because I had shown a good attitude in training and worked hard to earn it. It was good to get an opportunity to be involved.

"Monday night was a massive occasion at The Valley. The atmosphere was amazing and you can see why many people still consider Charlton to be a Premier League club.

"It was a shame that we lost. If we had gone through then I could well have made my debut at Wembley playing alongside Christian Dailly. Sam Sodje, the regular centre-back, is out with a knee injury, and Miguel Llera would have been suspended after being sent-off against Swindon."

Had he played at Wembley, Fry would have partnered former West Ham and Scotland defender Dailly, who missed just two league games after joining Charlton from Rangers last summer.

"As a player, Christian is the perfect role model in the way he trains and he looks after himself. He is 36 and was still the fittest player there.

"He was great to be around and to train and work with. I got on well with him and it helped me a great deal to do so. He's a top man.

"Christian was recently voted as Charlton's oldest-ever player of the year and he fully deserves it."

Should Fry enjoy a career half as successful as Dailly, he has plenty to be positive about.