Don: Smiles All Round

Don Hutchison says he has laughed his way back to fitness after an eight month layoff - and can't wait to be back in first team action.

Don, who has had a cruciate problem, says:

"I had 45 minutes in the reserves the other night and I was very pleased with how that went, so I am trying to build it up for next week now.

"I have been all right; I am not a pessimistic person and the physios have been great with me.

"I always thought I would come back a fitter person and I am really looking to play more games.

"You have got to keep smiling."

But he does admit that there were nerves when he went out against Tottenham for his first taste of match action in two thirds of a year.

"It was a little bit worrying; coming back from a serious injury it is always going to be in the back of your mind - but I dealt with it okay.

"I will have 60 minutes next week and then build up to a full game - but I haven't set my sights on any target yet, though."

And, despite that optimistic nature of his, he also admits to concerns about West Ham's position at the bottom of the Premiership.

"I am obviously very worried about that," he says, "we haven't had a great start to the season but there is nothing much I can do about it until I am 100% fit - and I am not going to risk it until then.

"I am going to have to knuckle down and get fit but I am not going to rush; I have been out for eight months with a serious injury and I am not going to risk it happening again."

He is somewhat shocked by where West Ham are and adds:

"I have got to be surprised about where we are this season; after finishing seventh last season I thought we were going to push on.

"But it hasn't been the case."

With the Hammers facing his old club Sunderland at the weekend, the game has a certain poignancy for Don; was he surprised that Peter Reid was sacked recently?

"Definitely; I am a good friend of Peter's and I think everyone in football would like to see him in football again as quickly as possible," he says.

"He is a great manager, and it is a strange decision appointing Howard Wilkinson; I definitely thought Peter would have been the best man for the job."