Cool Collins

WELSH international James Collins has never lived outside of Wales. But the Newport-born 21-year-old is looking forward to his move to London after joining the Hammers from Cardiff City.

"It's fantastic," he smiled. "I've never lived outside of Cardiff before so this is all going to be new for me.

"But it's a terrific move and I'm delighted. Obviously having Danny coming too is going to make it easier to settle in, but I'm really looking forward to it and it should be a tremendous experience.

"We start pre-season tomorrow (Wednesday), so that will be good for us to meet the rest of the lads and get stuck in. Hopefully now I can concentrate on getting a good pre-season under my belt and showing the manager what I can do."

James graduated through the Youth ranks at Cardiff and made 85 appearances for the Bluebirds. Tipped for big things after impressing with some mature displays for club and country, James has no doubt that he can handle the step up to Premiership level.

"As a footballer it's your dream to play at the highest level," he admitted. "This is a great opportunity for me to play for a big club in the Premier League.

"After winning promotion through the Play-offs West Ham United are a club moving in the right direction. There is a positive feeling around the place and that's very important for me.

"I was impressed with the manager and staff and their plans for the team and I want to be a part of that progress."

Despite being determined to make an impact in the Premiership, James is under no illusions about how tough it will be for him to force his way into the West Ham United team.

Having played against the Hammers last season for Cardiff, James is well aware that he joins a talented squad and knows he must perform at his best to make an impact.

"It's not going to be easy for either me or Danny to break in," he warned. "This is an excellent squad of players and we're going to have to perform to our peak just to make the team.

"Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward are two superb players. They had a great end to the season and played a big part in the Club's promotion.

"But to have four or five top defenders pushing for places is a great thing for the Club and it means whoever is in the team is playing at the top of their game.

"You have to challenge yourself and I'm certainly looking forward to this challenge in my career.

"All I can do is try to perform as well as I can and when my chance comes in the Premiership make sure that I take it."