Vladimir Coufal is a warrior, he is tenacious. In football it's rare to get an opportunity when a manager comes up and says to you 'you're good enough. You're going to play'. You almost always get in on a default off the back of someone else's misfortune.
Your good fortune is someone else's misfortune. It happened to me when I started out at Fulham and it happened to me the other way around when I lost my place at Manchester United to Gary Neville.
I had an ankle injury and Neville came into the team. The boss in no uncertain terms told me 'He's young boy, he's doing really well and if I drop him it could affect his long-term future'. It hurt at the time but what he said was right; especially with young players.
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Now Coufal is fit he is on the bench and Ben is playing. Ben has been so consistent in what he's doing and the team have been so consistent. West Ham are playing good football and winning games as well.
Over time Ben is getting more and more assured as a footballer. If you want to judge him on goals and assists, then you're not judging him in the right way. You look at how his defending has improved.
There have not been that many who have enjoyed playing against him which pleases me more because I'd rather see him be a really good defender and the added bonus of helping in the attacking third than always be up there and the likes of Craig Dawson and Kurt Zouma have to ask him to track back. He's a very honest full-back.
I'm pleased and proud a member of my family is doing so well as a footballer. He's playing for his local team, which is absolutely fantastic that he's doing that. It's great to go there and it's now more meaningful when I go and watch West Ham play.
He's still competing for his place and that doesn't stop. It should never stop during his career. People are waiting for a young lad to have a customary period where everyone goes 'he needs a break because he's young.'
My philosophy is don't give someone else the opportunity by doing that and prove you can go and do it in every single game. Try and be consistent, you might have a bad game because you're human, but don't allow that to be an excuse to make you miss out on playing or cost you a place in the team.

Johnson (centre left) celebrates with teammates after scoring the early opening goal against Aston Villa

Image credit: Getty Images

He's the number one player in the manager's eyes playing at right-back. Coufal is sitting there as a Czech Republic international with a lot of experience waiting for that moment to come in and get his place back because he's been doing it longer than Ben has.
Johnson has surpassed Ryan Fredericks. His battle now is to make sure he's playing regularly ahead of Coufal. Then he knows he is competing in the top position to play regular football in a team high up the league.
He's come in, has established himself really well and is enjoying the moment.
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