Back In Business

West Ham United club captain Steve Lomas has spoken exclusively to the newsletter just days after making his long-awaited return to Premiership action as a substitute in West Ham's thrilling 4-4 draw at Charlton Athletic. Now he is setting his sights on playing a part in another London derby, against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

The Northern Ireland international has been ruled out since January this year, when he sustained a serious knee injury that wasn't operated on until April. After fighting his way through a gruelling rehabilitation schedule, he is now fully recovered and ready to stake a claim for a first team place again.

Relaxing after a full-blooded training session with his team-mates at Chadwell Heath, Steve admitted: "It's been a long 10 months but there is light at the end of the tunnel now and it's just great to be back."

His sorely-missed energy and enthusiasm in the Hammers midfield were immediately apparent when he stepped on to the pitch as a 63rd minute replacement for Don Hutchison at The Valley and Steve reveals that the butterflies were at full speed.

"It was strange, I was very nervous and it was like making my debut again. You never really know how it is going to go and the game was very fast and furious, so I was a bit apprehensive.

"I was a bit hyper and no one needed to tell me to warm up but I was okay once I got out there. It was only 30 minutes but it seemed like a lot longer than that!"

There is every possibility that he will get more than a 30 minute run-out against Tottenham on Saturday but the 29-year-old admits that lasting the full 90 minutes may be slightly beyond him at the moment.

"It would be nice, but I know it will be difficult. Maybe it's a case of getting out there at the start, giving it all I can and then being honest enough to say: 'That's it, get someone else on' when I've shot my bolt and need a rest.

"That's the best way to approach it really. If you go out there and try to take it easy for 10 or 20 minutes, the game will just pass you by and it will become frustrating.

"I would rather give it my all and come off when I'm totally knackered. It's all about finding your timing on the pitch, and that will come with more games."

Steve is under no illusion as to the size of the task facing the Hammers tomorrow, but insists that his team-mates should be confident of success against the north Londoners.

"Glenn Hoddle has got them very organised and they have some very good players. All the signings they made in the summer seem to have worked out for them.

"The likes of Poyet, Sheringham and Ziege may be in their later years, but they are still fantastic players of proven quality.

"They are only three points ahead of us, though, and if we can get the three points people might start talking about us in the way that they are talking about Tottenham."

West Ham will certainly have a better chance of climbing up the Premiership table with a fully fit Steve Lomas in our squad, and the former Manchester City star is almost back to his desired standard.

"The hard work starts now. I've got to a certain level, but the last 10 or 15% is the hardest part - reaching the sharpness you need in the Premiership week in, week out."