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2013-07-02T13:48:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:26:47

Ginge relishing week in Ireland

James Collins has told West Ham TV of his pleasure at being back in a West Ham United training kit for the start of pre-season training.

Collins and his Hammers squad-mates touched down in the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday morning ahead of a six-day camp in County Cork, culminating with a fixture with League of Ireland Premier Division side Cork City at Turner's Cross on Sunday evening.

It was as if 'Ginge' and his colleagues had never been away, with the banter soon flying around ahead of the serious business of pre-season preparation ahead of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League opener at home to Collins' old club Cardiff City on Saturday 17 August.

The 29-year-old was in fine fettle as he sat down to speak to West Ham TV ahead of the squad's first training session in Ireland on Tuesday afternoon.


Welcome to Ireland, Ginge! It doesn't seem like long ago that we were beating Reading 4-2 to complete the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season, so is it good to be back or could you have done with a longer break?

JC: "It's nice to back. I think it was enough of a break, really. You obviously get time away with your family but then you start missing it. We're back a week earlier than most Premier League clubs, which is a good thing, I think. It's like being back on the first day of school. We kept in touch over the summer with a little group-chat going on among the boys to keep in contact. To get the actual banter going again is great because, as I said, you do start missing them in a strange sort of way."

We were welcomed to Ireland by grey skies, fog and a bit of rain in the air, but is that a good thing when you have to run around for six days?

JC: "I think it is a good thing to be able to start in more manageable temperatures. It can be very hot sometimes when you go away for pre-season, but the weather is not the best here and it will keep the boys cool. You obviously get hot when you are doing all the running and all that, so it's a bonus."

The facilities at the Fota Island Resort are all on-site and top-class, so the players have no excuse if they do not have a productive week, do they?

JC: "It is spot-on, like you say. All the facilities are on-site and, if we do get a bit of time off, there is a golf course here for the golfers in the squad. Everything being on-site makes it easier than bussing here, there and everywhere so we have no excuses if we don't have a good week. We have a game coming up on Sunday, so we obviously need to get some training in before it, so the boys are looking forward to it. It should be good."

Being an experienced professional, what do you look to get out of the first week of pre-season training?

JC: "Obviously your body is not used to running about, so you have to get back into it slowly and get your fitness. It's not like you don't come back fit, because you have to look after yourself in the summer nowadays. All the boys have been doing that, so it's all about getting back into it and getting used to the football again."

With 22 players in Ireland, it is likely that everyone will play for 45 minutes at Cork City on Sunday. Are you looking forward to performing in front of a passionate Irish crowd, having done so previously for Wales?

JC: "There is a massive amount of passion for football here, especially down in Cork. I've got family living down here so I know how much it means to them and how they love their football down here. The boys are looking forward to it, looking forward to getting back on the pitch and pulling on the strip again and building towards the start of the season. It's quite early to have a game, but we'll have a half each just to get the boots and pads back on and see how it goes."

Among the 22 are three new faces in Razvan Rat, Adrian and Danny Whitehead, while Andy Carroll has remained at Chadwell Heath for treatment. It's always good to see fresh players in a squad, isn't it?

JC: "I met the new lads on Monday and they are nice lads. Obviously having Andy back is great. He is great in the changing room and he gets on great with the lads. If he can start the season as he ended the last one, and we can help the other lads settle in, they can all play a massive part for us."

For the second season in succession, we start at home to one of your old clubs. Last season, it was Aston Villa. This year, it will be your first club Cardiff City!

JC: "It will be good. I looked at it straight away and, with my family still living down there, they were excited as well. It will be strange playing against them in the Premier League, but they have done great to come up so it's one I am looking forward to. The same as last year, we had Villa and we got the three points against them, so fingers crossed we can do the same. I think I played against Cardiff once when I was at Villa in the League Cup [in September 2009] but it will be great to play against them in the league. There are not too many faces there from my time any more, but they did give me my start in football so I do keep an eye on them. Like last year, though, I'll be playing as hard as ever to get the three points."

Talking of the visit of Cardiff, it is that time of year when fans can snap up Season Tickets and Memberships. We sold out the final 17 matches of last season, so how important would it be to the players to make that 18 when the Bluebirds come to the Boleyn Ground?

JC: "It makes a huge difference, especially with our fans. We always try to get off to a good start in games to give the fans something to get excited about early doors. Last year, they were unbelievable - the same as in all the years I have been here. It's a tough time for everyone so it's unbelievable what they do for us and they don't realise how much it does spur us on when they do get behind us at home."

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