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2013-01-07T12:32:00 Updated 2015-02-19T01:29:09

McCallum signs new contract

Paul McCallum has been making plenty of headlines this season.

After missing virtually the whole of the 2011/12 campaign due to shin problems, the West Ham United centre forward has returned to regular action this term.

McCallum's six goals fired the Development Squad to the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Group 1 title before embarking on a loan spell at npower League Two club AFC Wimbledon.

The 19-year-old's joy turned to despair as he was sent-off for violent conduct on his Dons debut at Morecambe on 24 November - ruling him out of the club's historic FA Cup second-round visit to MK Dons.

Since then, however, McCallum's disappointment has turned to pride and joy as he was first rewarded with a new contract by the Hammers until summer 2015, then scored two vital goals in Wimbledon's battle to avoid relegation out of the npower Football League.

"It's been a good few weeks. I have signed a new contract with West Ham and been doing well and scoring goals, so I cannot ask for any better.

"I feel like I am physically fit and when I scored two goals in the opening Under-21 game of the season [in a 3-1 home win over Reading], I felt I was ready and it gave me a lot of confidence to go out and play my game.

"I would like to thank all the staff at West Ham, particularly the physio Tom Smith, for getting me right for this season. I only played one game last season, which was frustrating for me and knocked my confidence.

"I had a good pre-season and those two goals in the opening league game brought my confidence back."

McCallum, who conveniently lives just ten minutes from Wimbledon's training ground, has had a down-and-up time since moving to Kingsmeadow.

After suffering the shock of being shown a red card at Morecambe on his maiden appearance for the club, the teenager has returned to the starting XI in stunning style, scoring in a 3-2 victory at Torquay United on New Year's Day before smashing in the only goal of the game in another welcome win at Rochdale.

"It was probably the worst thing that could have happened. At the time, I didn't feel like I had done anything wrong. I felt like I had let the Wimbledon manager down after he had put his faith in me to play. After that, I just wanted to get back on the pitch and do a job for him.

"When I went back to the dressing room all I could think about was that I would be suspended for the MK Dons game. It had been a real bonus for me to have a chance to be involved in that game and West Ham had given me permission to play, so it was disappointing to miss it.

"Our fans were amazing up there and I thought we were really unlucky to lose."

For the former Dulwich Hamlet forward, scoring at Deepdale helped him to bury the memory of an unproductive loan spell with Rochdale last season.

"I've scored two goals in two games and we have won both of them, so I could not have asked for more than that.

"Against Torquay, the ball dropped inside the penalty area and I spun and hit my shot inside the bottom corner. At Rochdale I scored a header from inside the area, which is the sort of chance I love. The fans up there were brilliant and were the 12th man for us.

"I was on loan at Rochdale last season but, because of my injury, I didn't get a chance to play. It was after my first training session that my shin started playing up and I had to come back to West Ham.

McCallum's loan spell at Wimbledon is scheduled to end on Saturday 19 January and, as things stand, his short-term future is undecided.

After a frustrating time last season, the striker himself is just happy to be fit and playing regularly, be it for West Ham or Wimbledon. Should he return to the Boleyn Ground, the big frontman revealed his ambition to break into Sam Allardyce's first-team squad - having already been named as an unused substitute for the Capital One Cup ties with Crewe Alexandra and Wigan Athletic earlier this season.

"As a striker, I have got to keep scoring goals and hopefully I can get my chance in the first team and score a few goals for them.

"When Big Sam came in, everyone was saying that we'd play route-one, but it's not like that. The manager does like to play with a big centre forward and I have got to believe I can be that man - that if I get my chance, I am good enough to take it.

"Whatever happens - if I return to West Ham or stay out on loan - I want to keep playing well and scoring goals.

"If I get the chance to stay with Wimbledon, then I just want to be playing and making a name for myself in the Football League. If I come back, obviously I'll do my best for the Development Squad.

"The Under-21 Elite Group Stage is a big thing for the young players at the club. We won out first-stage group and now we want to win the Elite Group Stage."


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