Joe Getting There

Joe Cole says he will soon be back to the peak of fitness.

"I enjoyed playing against Tottenham and in every game I play I will try and be the best player on the pitch - that is the best way I can help West Ham," he says.

The 20-year-old made a 30 minute comeback against Charlton before playing the full game last weekend and insists the foot problem which has plagued him all season is now behind him.

"The Charlton game that I played half an hour of was fast, as well as the Spurs game, and I played 90 minutes in the reserves as well last week.

"I reckon three or four lots of 90 minutes should do it; after this week I will still not quite be 100% but I will still be able to make an impact on the game.

"There is nothing that bothers me when I am playing; the foot just gets a bit stiff afterwards, but the main thing is I can play with freedom again and I am not having to worry if I am going to go over on it or if it will really be sore when I kick the ball - so I'm buzzing about that.

"I have got to be moving as I get tackled a lot, but the injury is finished now so I don't really want to be dwelling on it; I want to play well against Sunderland and hopefully that will help us get the three points.

"I'm loving it; I can't complain about anything as I'm playing and training well - I'm just happy to be out there at the moment to help the lads.

"Things can turn around quickly and it is important that we get results against Sunderland and Aston Villa, because we have some big games coming up and we have to make sure we get results in these next games.

"Even a point against Sunderland is something but if we can get on top of them anything can happen, like in the cup last year.

"They have lost Don; it is a different side, Alex Rae has gone but they are quality team and have got some great players so it will be a difficult game."

Joe is backing Don Hutchison to overcome any barracking he may receive from the Sunderland fans at the weekend and says: "Don is not really bothered about that; he has had it in his career before when he went back to Everton so it won't bother him.

"He is a great player, captain of Scotland, and we see every day in training what quality he has.

"Don has scored goals regularly for the last three or four seasons in the Premiership; he just needs time to settle down into the West Ham style of playing because it is completely different from Sunderland."

Joe is also hoping that Michael Carrick will return to action after missing out against Spurs with a hamstring injury, and says: "I think Michael might have a chance on Saturday; he always plays well against them, being a Geordie, and it will be a big boost to have him back."

Joe says there are comparisons between West Ham now and Sunderland a few years ago, and he explains: "We are just building on the squad and I would say we are in a transitional period like Sunderland were when they went down.

"I certainly don't think we will go down, because we are a good side with plenty of good players and there are no reasons to worry; if you string some wins together you are up there.

"Then it is a matter of staying up there; but it is very important we win these next games.

"You can't really look at the table until after Christmas and there's a lot of games to be played between now and then; we just have to make sure we pick up some points."

Joe is absolutely delighted that the threat of the players' strike is over - especially now he is playing again!

"I was thinking that just as I get fit we'd be on strike," he smiles.

"I don't think anyone would have wanted that; it was just one of those things where people were upset the negotiations were going on so long, but it's sorted out now and everyone is happy - long may it continue.

"But you have got to think about people who earn their living from football but finish at 35 and have to get another job; a lot of what people read in the papers about what players are earning is bumped up and you have to be careful with your money because even at 32 or 33 some players have to pack in.

"But even if you have earned thousands of pounds in your career, you have to make it last, especially when you have kids and you have to look after them as well.

"Footballers get a lot of criticism about the money they earn but if you look at the other sports like golf, tennis, basketball, and American football we are really at the bottom of the pay scale.

"That's not a complaint but I am just saying footballers get a lot of stick about the money they earn but a lot of players would play for nothing because everyone likes playing."