McNaughton working hard

Ask anybody at West Ham United about Callum McNaughton and they will tell you he is one of the hardest-working and focused players at the club.

The reserve-team centre-back has bounced back from a frustrating, injury-ravaged 2009/10 season to enjoy a productive campaign in his first year as a professional.

A successful loan spell at Blue Square South club Bishop's Stortford over the Christmas and New Year period, the 19-year-old has forced his way into Steve Lomas' starting XI.

Last week, McNaughton was in impressive form at Sunderland, enjoying a physical battle with England Under-21 striker Danny Welbeck and helping to shackle former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur forward Fraizer Campbell.


"I've had a run of games - four starts - and that's been really good for me," he told West Ham TV. "I felt I've done well in those games, as well, and been consistent. I've kept my place as well, which has been good, and I'm learning so there have been some positives there.

"You definitely need to be fit so that you can play and then it's just about getting your confidence up and getting a string of games together. I went on loan to Bishop's Stortford in January when we had no reserve games and it has definitely done me the power of good.

"I played eight games in a month and it was first-team football, so I felt that really helped me. It gave me match-fitness and more experience.

"I got my start in the reserves against West Brom and we won 4-1. From there, I feel like I've gained in confidence. I feel like I'm doing new things in games and everything is coming together, which is good. I'm really enjoying it."

McNaughton's performance at The Academy of Light drew wholesome praise from new reserve-team manager Lomas, who was pleased with the application and discipline shown by his young defenders against two Barclays Premier League forwards.

The defender himself was happy with his display in a game which finished in a 1-1 draw.

"You want to be playing against the best players to prove yourself. If you play against Premier League players and do well, it shows you can deal with it.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed playing against those players. It raises your game and I'm just loving it really. I had a few tussles with Welbeck and it was good.

"The praise means a lot to me. I felt like I played well and it's nice when people say you've done well as it confirms it. I'm enjoying playing well and it's definitely a boost, but you can never get ahead of yourself. I've got to keep going and never stop and get better and better."

McNaughton and his colleagues welcome Newcastle United to the Boleyn Ground for a Barclays Premier Reserve League fixture on Tuesday afternoon.

The teenager hopes to keep his place in the side, but he is keeping his options open as he attempts to earn a new professional contract this summer. A second loan spell is not out of the question, but McNaughton's long-term aim remains achieving a place in the West Ham first team.

"Ultimately I want to play here - there's no question about it. I'm trying to what is best for me so that I can prove myself to the coaches in training day-in, day-out and in the games.

"Everything that comes along, I'll take the decision that is best for me to reach my goal of playing first-team football here."