Cristian stakes a claim

Cristian Montano will travel with a strong squad for a behind-closed-doors fixture at Chelsea this afternoon looking to build on his impressive reserve-team progress.

The 19-year-old is in confident mood, following last week's Barclays Premier Reserve League 4-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion. Not only did he belt in an unstoppable 30-yard screamer, but he also produced an impressive performance on his first-ever run out as a left-back.

Montano, who won the Doris Bell Award for the best player in the Academy and finished as the youth team's top scorer last season, has recently returned from injury and is aiming to finish his first campaign as a professional on a high.

The Colombian-born player told West Ham TV of his delight at putting in an all-round performance against the Baggies, combining his trademark dribbling skills with an impressive array of defensive talents, most notably his aerial prowess in repelling set pieces.


The undisputed highlight of his afternoon, though, was the wonder goal he smashed past West Brom goalkeeper Ryan Allsop three minutes before half-time.

"I think we crossed it from the right-hand side, they cleared it out and I controlled it. I heard people calling my name and shouting 'Cross it, cross it!' but I looked up and saw Olly Lee behind three defenders.

"I thought about it and heard someone else say 'Shoot' so I took a touch and saw the goalkeeper was to one side so I went for it and hit a clean strike into the top corner. You can't ask for more!

"We all enjoyed it and, apart from the goals we scored, the three points is the most important thing. Playing away and getting a good result is a good thing, so well done to the lads."

West Ham's victory saw them leapfrog today's opponents Chelsea into fourth place in the Southern Division and, with games in-hand on the three teams above them, the Hammers' second-string have hopes of ending the season on a high.

Montano is eager to play his part, whatever position he is asked to fill.

"It was quite good. It's the first time I've played there so I didn't think I was going to do that well, especially getting a goal as well from 30 yards!

"I've played left-back in training but not in an actual game. The lads encouraged me and told me that I could do it because I had done it in training, so I went out there to show that I can play in another position.

"I'd consider playing as a defender and if I'm asked to then obviously I would, but I'm an attacking player. When I play on the wing, I have to track my defender which is obviously a similar role, but I usually spend most of my time attacking.

"Obviously when I play on the wing I get more freedom to go forward, whereas when I play at left-back I have to be more disciplined. I thought I played quite well there and it will be useful for the future."

* West Ham reserves travel to Chelsea's Cobham training ground to face the Blues at 2pm. As ever, there will be live text updates on