Collins On Course

JAMES Collins was delighed to register his first appearance for the Hammers in their pre-season clash with Falkenbergs, and after an encourgaing start the 21-year-old central defender is looking forward to making plenty of progress over the next few weeks.

He said: "The game went well and I was pretty pleased with the way I played. Your first game with new players is always one that you look forward to, but it's also something that you're quite keen to get out of the way.

"I wasn't all that nervous, but I wanted to do well, play well and show the management here what I have to offer. "It was good that we got a positive result, because that always helps the spirit and mood within the camp. But more importantly it was a tough work out for the lads against strong opposition.

"There were a few stiff legs this morning, but that's what pre-season is all about - getting as fit and prepared as you can for the coming season."

With five international caps for Wales already to his name, James is no stranger to competing at the highest level. But the former Cardiff City defender knows that he has his work cut out to force his way into Alan Pardew's first-team.

"This is a really strong squad," he added, "and I know that it's not going to be easy to break in. The lads that played last season, Anton and Elliott, did fantastically well to help the Club win promotion and I'll be up against them for a place.

"It won't be easy and it's going to mean a lot of hard work for me during pre-season to prove to the manager that I deserve my place. "I haven't played in the Premier League before, but that isn't something that worries me too much. All I can do is concentrate on doing my best in pre-season and making sure that I'm prepared when the season starts.

"I've always wanted to play in the Premier League and I'm looking forward to doing that with West Ham United."

James is also enjoying the chance to bond with his new team-mates in Sweden, and has already identified a few jokes in the Hammers pack.

"There's a great bunch of lads here," he said. "Bobby Zamora's pretty loud and Anton Ferdinand lets you know he's there as well.  "The coaching staff have been terrific as well, and I know the Club's new physios Steve Allen and Paul Hunter from Cardiff.

"They're all good lads and I'm really enjoying being part of the squad. Now it's just a case of keeping my head down, getting on with the hard work and doing as much as I can before the season starts."