Jack Collison was understandably delighted to play his part in helping West Ham United to a vital yet hard-fought 1-0 Premier League victory at Stoke City on Saturday.

The Wales midfielder made a triumphant return from the dislocated kneecap he suffered at Wigan Athletic on 4 March, appearing as an 82nd-minute substitute as the Hammers kept the Potters at bay during the closing stages.

Collison came through his run-out unscathed and paid tribute to the defensive work done by his colleagues both before and after his introduction by manager Gianfranco Zola.

The 21-year-old was particularly impressed with the bravery shown by Robert Green, who twice threw himself at the feet of Stoke striker Ricardo Fuller and Henri Camara, and central defenders Matthew Upson and James Tomkins, who headed away a succession of long throws and corners launched into the danger-zone by Rory Delap and Liam Lawrence.

"Obviously it has been a bit of a long road for me, having two months out of the team," Collison admitted. "To be honest, it was nice just to be around the boys and part of it. Although I only got ten minutes on the pitch, it was a great feeling going out there, especially hearing all the fans and securing such a great result for us.

"There were a few bumps and bruises in the dressing room afterwards. Robert Green was outstanding. He threw himself in front of everything and thanks to the likes of him, Matty Upson and James Tomkins, we came away with three points."

While Collison was impressed with his colleagues' defensive work, he also had words of praise for striker Diego Tristan, who won the game with a sublime 33rd-minute free-kick that flew into Thomas Sorensen's top right-hand corner, leaving the Danish goalkeeper standing.

The youngster believes Tristan, who scored the winner against Stoke for the second time this season to take his overall tally to three, showed all the class he used to make his name during a successful six-year spell with Spanish club Deportivo de La Coruna.

Collison believes the 33-year-old could have an equally important role to play over the final three games of the season as the Hammers strive for a top-seven finish and a spot in next season's UEFA Europa League.

"It wasn't a bad strike was it? A player like Diego Tristan has been there and done it and can bring that sort of quality to our team. It was a great strike and fair play to him.

"He's obviously that little bit older now, but there's no doubting his ability when you get the ball into his feet. He showed that at Stoke and almost did it again when he dinked one over the 'keeper [in added-time, only to see his shot bounce narrowly wide of the post]. We've got three games left and I'm sure he'll keep producing the goods."