Joe Gets Red-dy For United

On January 10, 1999, a 17-year-old midfielder by the name of Joe Cole made his Premiership debut for West Ham, as a half-time substitute against the mighty Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Hammers were on the wrong end of a 4-1 drubbing that day. However, almost three years later, Cole is looking forward to visiting the 'Theatre of Dreams' again on Saturday - in the hope of repeating last season's memorable 1-0 victory in the FA Cup fourth round.

Having fully recovered from the troublesome foot injury that plagued him for the first three months of the season, Joe has made a welcome return to Glenn Roeder's side and settled back into the pace of the Premiership in remarkably quick fashion.

"I'm just enjoying playing football again," he admits. "There's no better feeling than being out on the pitch involved in a game and I just want to keep improving and helping West Ham as much as I can.

"The last three years gone quickly and a lot has happened to me since then but my hunger and enthusiasm is just the same and I am looking forward to doing the business at Old Trafford on Saturday."

Despite the popular view that Sir Alex Ferguson's team are in rapid decline, Joe is too professional to adopt any kind of complacency in the build up to Saturday's clash and is under no illusion as to the size of the task facing the Hammers.

"No matter what people say, United are still the best attacking team in the country and you can never write them off.

"We know it's going to be a tough game but we got a result there last season and we can do it again if we work as hard as we did in the second half against Aston Villa on Wednesday night."

Results certainly will improve if the Hammers continue where they left off against Villa, with Joe still baffled as to how the visitors managed to escape with a point.

"You wouldn't have argued if it had finished 3-1 to us in the end. If we keep playing like we did in the second half, though, I'm sure it will come good for us.

"We need to have the same energy and enthusiasm, because we've proved we have the ability to carve teams open and create plenty of chances.

"We've got to make sure we put those chances away, though. It's a lot of pressure to put on a young lad like Jermain, but he has proved he can handle it and I'm sure he will score a lot of goals this season."