Glen Geared Up

Glen Johnson returned to pre-season training this week suffering from a spot of jet-lag, but insisted he is fully prepared for the long haul that the Hammers will face in the Nationwide First Division over the coming months.

The young defender, who doesn't turn 19 until next month, flew back from a holiday in Barbados just hours before reporting back to Chadwell Heath on Monday morning to join up with the rest of his team-mates in preparation for the 2003-04 campaign, yet admits he was perfectly happy to have left the golden sands of the Carribean behind in favour of the gym and running track at our training headquarters.

"The break wasn't too long, but I had a rest and enjoyed my holiday," he says. "I feel more refreshed now and I am looking forward to getting back into it.

"It's been a strange summer, not the sort you can enjoy after what happened at the end of the season, and I think everyone just wants to get on with trying our hardest to get back up to the Premiership.

"It took a bit of time for relegation to sink in, but nothing has changed here at the training ground and we know what we have to do.

Glen's summer break was of course restricted to just a few weeks following his involvement with the England under-21 squad at the end of last season, but he looks back on the experience with obvious pride.

"I didn't get to play much, but it was a good experience to be involved and I felt I did okay when I got my chance.

"David Platt gave me a few words of encouragement and I will be hoping to push on this season and get a few more games under my belt at that level."

For now, though, the focus is on ensuring the preparations are spot on as we search for the kind of start to the new season that will place Glenn Roeder's men in pole position for an early return, and Glen knows that footballing talent alone certainly won't be enough to build a successful campaign.

"Our attitude has got to be spot on, and I reckon the lads will do it," he says. "We know we've got to knuckle down and get off to a good start, and we're all geared up to do that.

"There is obviously a lot of speculation in the papers, but we'll just get on with the football and hopefully perform when the time comes.

"We know it won't be easy, everyone in the division is going to want to beat us and coming to Upton Park will be their biggest game of the season. We have got to approach it in the right manner and if we do that, then I am sure everything will work out fine."