The speedy left-winger departed from the Lane in August 2003 after making 51 appearances in our colours following his signing from Peterborough United at the end of December 1999.
He has enjoyed regular first team football at Upton Park and Robbie feels this has helped in him realising his potential.
"He went to West Ham and has become one of their most influential players," reasoned the striker. "If he is fit he plays and that can only help him as a player.
"He has grown as a player since going to West Ham, he has matured and is turning into a great player.
He is quick, good on the ball and can beat defenders - that is what you want from a left winger
"You could see his talent on the training pitch here. There are not many of them about and you could see he was a good player when he was here. He is proving it now at West Ham and is doing well."
Robbie went on to add that, despite the threat of Etherington and other former Spurs like Teddy Sheringham, Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky, our team are seeking to get back into the habit of banking three points.
"We are playing at home with the crowd behind us so we have a great chance. We haven't won for a few games and it would be good to get back to winning. Derby games are always tough but we are looking forward to it and the atmosphere will be great.
"If we play the way we've been playing I see no reason why we can't do well in the game."
Robbie Keane believes our former wide man Matty Etherington has progressed significantly as a player since his switch to Sunday's opponents West Ham United.