FRANK Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe, Michael Carrick … Kieran Bywater. It may not be that long before the Sawtry-based 16-year-old’s name rolls of the tongue as readily as those other former West Ham United apprentices.

Having been at the 
Hammers' famous Academy since he was 10, Bywater has just been offered a scholarship with the club that has produced so many great footballers in recent years. Of course, it's an offer he will be accepting.

"I've always been confident about getting the scholarship," said Bywater, who is coached by Tony Carr, who also coached the likes of Lampard, Ferdinand etc.

"Their pictures are in the house where we live. Their shirts are on the walls. They used to live there and there are pictures of them at the pool table. It gives you that extra boost. It makes you want to follow in their footsteps."

Originally from Trafford in Manchester, Bywater's parents - Simon and Melanie - moved to Sawtry when their son was four. He went to Sawtry Primary School before moving to the town's Community College where deputy principal Nigel Smith has done his best to cope with the player's unusual schooling arrangements. At the moment, Bywater is spending half of his week in Sawtry and the other half in London.

"If you have a young man and family - and a tutor like Paul Baynes - all working in partnership, then it makes it so much easier," said Smith.

"We are proud of all of our pupils - and if they are successful in sport, or on the West End stage, then so be it.

"Keiran has worked incredibly hard and has been totally committed - we're really chuffed for him - but he knows it is going to get harder with every step."

Since being offered his deal, Bywater has been given some advice by a first-year professional who also lives in the club's house. "He told me he knew I would be offered a scholarship but warned me that it's going to be hard work and that I need to apply myself," he said.

"I have just been injured and out for about eight weeks but before that I was beginning to break into the under-18s team - I was on the bench at the weekend. By next season I want to be starting for the 18s and getting a couple of reserve team games as well."

Bywater is a central midfielder and, despite his Manchester roots - and both his parents being Manchester United fans - he models himself on the Liverpool and England star Steven Gerrard.

As a youngster he tasted disappointment: he was at Peterborough United's centre of excellence when it closed down ... and then at Cambridge United's when that one closed down too.

But he wasn't disappointed for too long, as his father explained. "It ended at Cambridge and then one night the phone started ringing and loads of clubs were after him."

In two or three years time, when West Ham - who are currently top of the Championship - are perhaps back in the Premiership, and their star player is Kieran Bywater, maybe the phone will be ringing all over again…

"In my second year I want to be pushing for a place in the first team," he told The Hunts Post.