Xande Silva has set his sights on regular first-team football after making his full debut for West Ham United.
The Portuguese forward was handed his maiden start for the Hammers in Saturday’s 2-0 Emirates FA Cup third-round win over Birmingham City at London Stadium.
And the 21-year-old took less than two minutes to make his mark. It was Xande Silva’s low, accurate goal-bound shot that Lee Camp pushed around the post, winning the corner which led to Marko Arnautovic’s early opening goal.
The former Vitoria Guimaraes player continued to catch the eye throughout his 79 minutes on the pitch, using the ball intelligently, running at the Birmingham back four and helping out his own defence whenever required.
Having also featured as a substitute in the Premier League fixture at Burnley in late December, the No32 is eager for more opportunities to impress Manuel Pellegrini.
I want to play regularly in the first team and do my best to continually be involved in first-team squads
“I felt good,” confirmed Xande Silva, who has scored seven goals at U23 level since making his summer switch to east London. “I have waited a long time for the opportunity, I spent a period on the side-lines with injury and have been working my way up to full fitness. I am happy with how I performed, I felt I showed my ability, and I am happy we won the game.
“The manager spoke with us about starting the game with good pace and good intensity and fortunately we managed to do that and get the early goal which helped settle the nerves.
“I want to play regularly in the first team and do my best to continually be involved in first-team squads. I want to follow in the footsteps of Grady and Dec and win a regular space in the squad and the team. They are both doing really well and I want to prove to the manager that I can continue to play at this level alongside them and the rest of the first-team.”
Competition for places is fierce in the attacking positions, with Marko Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson, Chicharito, Michail Antonio, Lucas Perez Andy Carroll, Samir Nasri, Robert Snodgrass, the injured Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and youngsters Diangana and Nathan Holland all able to fill them.
And that will likely mean Xande Silva has to wait patiently for the opportunities he craves.
“I am prepared for that,” he said, showing maturity to go alongside his youthful eagerness. “I am a new player here, I am very young and have a lot to learn.
“Since I was young I have wanted to play in the Premier League and I am grateful to now be at West Ham and have that opportunity.”