Shaw thing

Frazer Shaw has already made great strides this season, but now he is aiming to make the biggest step of his career.

The left-back, who turned 18 on 23 December, has become a regular Development Squad starter in recent weeks after impressing for the Under-18s. Now, the former Arsenal schoolboy is targeting a place in Sam Allardyce's first-team squad.

Having been released by the Gunners at the age of 14, Shaw is making the most of his second chance with the Hammers. However, the attack-minded teenager knows he will need to keep improving and working hard if he is to make his mark at the highest level.

"I started the season in the youth team and recently I've been playing with the Development Squad, getting a few games in. Hopefully everybody is happy with what I've been doing and I can stay up there in the New Year and keep on improving.

"It's always good for a youth-team player to be pushing up into the Development Squad, and with the Development Squad doing so well it has been nice to be in and around them, because you are always going to improve in those surroundings.

"Things are going to plan and hopefully I can stick with it. I'm enjoying my football at the moment.

"You have always got to look at what you are trying to achieve and that is a place in the first-team squad. You've always got to look there, so I've got to keep my feet on the ground, keep working and hopefully I can get there.

"Maybe things happen for a reason and I'm really enjoying it at West Ham. I just hope I can get my chance to break into the first team - that would be nice."

Shaw is a left-back by trade, but having started his career as a midfielder, he has also filled his original position for the Development Squad, showing a versatility that can only aid his future career.

"Left-back is my favourite position and the coaches know that, but there have been a few injuries in the Development Squad so I've filled in in central midfield. I'm happy playing anywhere if I'm playing football.

"I like getting forward, but at the moment I'm working on the defensive side of my game. I started off as a midfielder so I like getting forward, but I know I need to improve my defending."

When Shaw was released by Arsenal, he was told it was because he was not big enough to become a professional footballer. These days, the youngster has developed his physique and anybody who has witnessed his strong tackling this season would question the Gunners' wisdom in allowing him to move on.

"I've been working in the gym doing extra sessions with our strength and conditioning coach Dan Bernadin after training so he's doing really well for me. I'm working really hard, trying to do the best I can for myself."

While a professional contract and a first-team squad place is his ultimate aim, Shaw is also relishing the opportunity to make his maiden Boleyn Ground start in the FA Youth Cup fourth-round meeting with Tottenham Hotspur later this month.

"The Development Squad have gone into the Elite Group and the Under-18s are doing well in the FA Youth Cup, so hopefully we can keep up the good work.

"We have got Tottenham in the next round of the Youth Cup. I got a little bit of a run against Brighton at Upton Park last year, but this year is a big one for me and I'd love to play against Tottenham there.

"Hopefully we can beat them and go on to win the Youth Cup. It will be a big game and all the boys will be ready for it."