Carlton Cole is feeling sharper by the day as the start of the 2014/15 season closes in.

The striker had a useful 80-minute run out in Saturday's penalties victory over Schalke 04 and feels ready to make his mark in the Barclays Premier League again.

Having missed out on pre-season last year, he is reaping the benefits of being able to hit the ground running this time around.

"It was great conditioning for me on Saturday," he explained. "I needed those minutes under my belt, and we also needed to up the tempo because Schalke are a Champions League team and we gave a good account of ourselves.

"I played 80 minutes and hopefully I'll get a 90 before it all starts in twe weeks. We were chuffed with the penalties, we haven't been practising them but we beat Germans on penalties!

For Cole himself, he is looking to step into Andy Carroll's shoes with a pre-season ankle injury sidelining the big No9 for four months. He is looking forward to fighting with new arrivals Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate for a starting berth

He added: "When Andy was out last year, I felt I did a good job in that period of time, so I know I can do that. It's not a problem for me, it's just about getting fit.

"I have a great opportunity to get fit and get the games under my belt so I can start the season well.

"We've got competition for places and that's what going's to spur me on to even do better."

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