Confident Collins Can't Wait For The Premiership

DEFENDER James Collins turned in an exemplary display in the 2-2 draw at Yeovil Town, staking his claim for a place in the Hammers team for the big Premiership kick-off against Blackburn Rovers on August 13th.

The Welsh international partnered Malky Mackay and then Elliott Ward in the West Ham United back-line, and although the result saw the end of Hammers 100 per cent pre-season record, James was pleased with the work-out against a competitive Yeovil side.

"We expected a very strong test from Yeovil and that's exactly what we got," he said.

"I remember playing against them for Cardiff City last year and being very impressed with their performance. We started off a bit slower than we would have liked, but they may have been a reflection on a very hard trip to Sweden.

"We got into our stride eventually though and started to play some good stuff, especially in the second-half. It was a different test to the games in Sweden, when we dominated for large parts of the matches.

"At Yeovil we really had to work our way into the game, but we kept at it and did well to pull oursevles back.

"In these pre-season games, especially the early ones, you prefer tougher tests because it's all about getting match fit and building your sharpness in preparation for the new season.

"We played well, but we know that we can play better, and that's a good stage to be at going into an exciting trip to Munich on Wednesday."

Collins is preparing to take on the Premier League for the first time, after completing a move from Cardiff City last month. But despite the gruelling pre-season schedule at Chadwell Heath, the 21-year-old insists he is enjoying his formative weeks with the Hammers.

"I don't mind all the fitness and running," he smiled, "honest! In these pre-season games the main aim is building fitness. But although the result isn't always the most important thing it definitely gives you a boost to be unbeaten after four pre-season games.

"Of course, for almost all the players the best form of training is actually playing matches and that's why the lads have enjoyed this pre-season build up so much, because the games follow on really quickly from each other.

"I've been really impressed with the intensity of the training since I got here, but that's what is required in the Premier League and that's why the players have been working so hard over these last two weeks.

"The training has been really strong and the players are looking really sharp for this stage of pre-season. That can only bode well for the Club and hopefully we can really push on over the next week or so, which is probably going to be the most intense of our pre-season schedule so far.

"The middle weeks of pre-season are when the training really starts to bite, and then it eases off a bit in the final couple of weeks before the season, when the emphasis switches to the technical and tactical aspects.

"The preparations are really going well so far and everyone is focused on making sure we can get off to a good start when the season begins."

Like the rest of his team-mates, James can't wait for that first game against Blackburn Rovers, when the defender is hoping to make his first appearance in-front of the famous Boleyn Ground crowd.

"It's going to be a fantastic occasion and like every player I'm desperate to be a part of it," he admitted. "Hopefully I can just keep working hard, focus on my game and try and impress the manager when I get my chance.

"I had a decent game at Yeovil and hopefully I can build on that over the next few games. There's a great feel around the place at the moment and everyone is looking forward to that first game.

"The excitment gets that little bit more intense with every week that goes by. We're also still unbeaten and that's giving us plenty of confidence going into the rest of the pre-season programme.

"We just can't wait to get going now and hopefully I can be a part of that first game against Blackburn."