While Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te dominated the headlines following the npower Championship Play-Off final win over Blackpool in May, Jack Collison was just as important to West Ham United's successful promotion quest.

The midfielder forced his way into the starting XI on a regular basis as the 2011/12 season approached its conclusion, scoring a screamer at Leicester City before bagging both goals in the vital 2-0 Play-Off semi-final first leg win at Cardiff City.

The No10 told whufc.com how happy he was to contribute to the Club's success and cannot wait to get back to playing in the Barclays Premier League next month.

"It's raining at home, so it is nice to be able to come to Austria to train, although it has been boiling hot so far!" he said. "The good thing is that you really feel the heat when you're training, get a sweat on and you feel you are working hard.

"The boys have been having two or three sessions a day and we're doing some good exercise.

"The setting is perfect. It's nice and quiet so we can really get away from everything and concentrate on our football. The hotel is superb and we had a nice swimming pool to work in just down the road, too.

"It was a bit of an up and down season for me last year. I was in and out of the team for a while trying to find my fitness and form after being out for such a long time [with a serious knee injury].

"It was great to finally get some games under my belt and I'll look to hit the ground running this season and hit the net even more often."

Collison was part of the winning team in the annual pre-season water polo competition on Wednesday - the second year in succession that he has won the tournament - and was many people's pick for Most Valuable Player.

"That's two gold medals in two years and two MVPs, so it's great for me to win the competition and be the outstanding player two years on the bounce.

"It's also good to do exercises like that and build team spirit. You can really feel the lads coming together."

Jack Collison

While he and his team-mates enjoy training on the pitch and in the pool, the Wales international admitted they all cannot wait for the first Barclays Premier League fixture at home to Aston Villa on 18 AUgust.

"When the fixtures came out everyone was buzzing to see who we would be playing. Our first game is Villa at home and a home game is just what we wanted.

"We've now got six weeks to get everyone fit and fighting for places. We've got lots of quality in the squad and everyone wants to be in that starting XI.

"We've got a close-knit group and it's great that everyone is smiling and pushing each other in training, Off the pitch, everyone is getting on too."

Finally, Collison had words of praise and encouragement for close pal James Tomkins, who has been included in the Team GB squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"It's obviously brilliant for Tonks and I think he deserves it for the way he played last season. He was outstanding and it's great that he's got this recognition.

"Hopefully he'll got to the tournament and do really well and come back ready to play well for us."

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