Stech to fight for regular role
Czech youngster is eager to earn starting spot - perhaps on loan
By Vasek Kadlec. Last Updated: June 23, 2011 10:31pm
Stech: Refuses to give up battle for first-team football
Marek Stech is ready to stake his claim to become West Ham's first-choice goalkeeper next season.
England international Rob Green could stay in the Premier League following the Hammers' relegation and his potential departure would leave the way open for the Czech Republic Under-21 international.
Unless new Hammers boss Sam Allardyce signs an experienced replacement, Stech will be battling it out with Ruud Boffin and Jake Larkins for a regular spot.
"Green wants to stay in the Premier League and he reportedly has an offer from Aston Villa," Stech told Pravo.
"There are us three youngsters left for the position of No.1 and, besides that, there is also a new manager so I am optimistic.
"We have been relegated but the second division is more difficult than the top one. You play more fixtures, so paradoxically it is an advantage for me that we are not in the elite league as I have a better chance."
However, Stech's situation is complicated by the fact there is a clause in his contract that means the Hammers owe his former club Sparta Prague a fee once he plays five games.
The 21-year-old played three Carling Cup games last term and hopes the two clubs can come to a compromise over the summer, but if not, he will push for a loan move after brief spells at Wycombe and Bournemouth in 2009.
"West Ham are in talks with Sparta and the clause is still valid," he said. "It is a big amount of money and I am not allowed to be specific about it.
"I hope everything gets resolved before the start of the new season. I would not like to leave West Ham as I love the club, but I need to be a regular starter.
"I may have to go on loan somewhere. It would be difficult for me now to change clubs (permanently).
"After the Euro U21s, goalkeepers of my age will be in demand and they have been regulars. I am not a first-choice goalkeeper and that makes it a lot more difficult for me. I would then probably choose to go on loan in England.
"I want to start the new season as number one, no matter where that would be. I need to gain experience. If I'm playing once in 10 games it gives me nothing new. You lose self-belief, talent and confidence if you're not a regular."
Stech had been hoping to feature against Manchester United in the Carling Cup quarter-finals only to discover the Hammers' hierarchy wanted him to sit it out, but the young keeper is eager to put that behind him, even refusing to have an extra week off after the Euro U21s.
"Green didn't do well in the World Cup and he wasn't overly confident after returning from that tournament," he said. "The third goalkeeper got injured too so I was in a good position.
"I was doing quite well in the reserves and putting pressure on Green in training sessions. My chance was coming closer but I simply couldn't play.
"I was fired up for that one (Manchester United) but then the club president came and told me that they would not pay Sparta," Stech added.
"I didn't know there had been any clause whatsoever, I was shocked about that. I felt sorry about how West Ham acted in that issue, but it is gone now.
"There is still plenty of motivation left and it is no problem to stay and fight for a regular spot. England is the best place for football - packed stadiums and unbelievable fans. I will not throw in the towel!"