Carlton Cole is eager to return to first team action with West Ham United after getting some vital minutes under his belt for the Club's Development Squad.

The striker who began his second spell with the Hammers was substituted in the final moments of a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League on Monday evening.

Cole is working hard to regain match fitness and is hopeful he will soon be appearing for Sam Allardyce's side once again.

He told West Ham TV: "I want to get back into the thick of things now. I had a taste of the bench on Saturday against Manchester City and I just wanted to get on so much.

"The manager felt it was best not to throw me in at the deep end so fast, to try and get this game under my belt and be available for selection in the other first team games."

Big Sam hinted after Saturday's defeat to Manchester City that Cole and fellow striker Mladen Petric may well be given a chance with Sunday's trip to Swansea City followed by a Capital One Cup clash at Burnley two days later.

With that in mind, the big forward was sent with Nick Haycock's team to give the No24 some more playing time ahead of any potential first team involvement.

"Obviously I've come in and played with the young boys who are developing into Premier League players. I've just wanted to act as a good influence upon them and at the same time get some minutes under my belt, which the manager has asked me to do.

"I need the minutes under my belt and I've now played two 90 minutes so, hopefully, I can convince the manager to get me in the squad, coming on as a sub or even starting a game sometime soon.

Conditions for Cole's first match with the Under-21s were far from ideal as torrential rain provided a boggy surface and would occasionally affect the run of the ball.

The Hammers coped with the conditions better than their opponents however and were rewarded with goals from Kieran Sadlier and Dan Potts. The striker admitted conditions were not ideal but was pleased with how the team coped with the situation.

He said: "It was difficult for both teams and we had no excuses as both teams had the same conditions and it came down to who could handle them better. We came in and dominated the whole game and dealt with the conditions how we were supposed to."

Cole was also impressed by the talent amongst the Club's youth ranks and believes they are in good hands.

"There are some brilliant, very promising players. In all positions they're very solid, strong and hopefully they can go on to be good players for the Club.

"That's the main aim, to develop them in these conditions and Nick's doing a brilliant job with that. The players just have to listen to him, trust him and he'll make sure they come through."

After being aided in his quest for match fitness with a strong performance for the Development Squad, Cole is now keen to make his mark for West Ham once again.

"It looked like I was leaving and now I'm back, so hopefully I can make a good impression in my time here."

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