Collins Confident His Chance Will Come

DEFENDER James Collins has found it tough to break into the Hammers first-team since his summer move to Upton Park from Cardiff City.

A calf injury at the start of the season did not help the Welsh international's progress, but the 21-year-old, who won the Young Welsh Player of the Year award for the second year running last month, is confident of breaking into Pards' plans sooner rather than later.

He said: "It's been a bit frustrating, because I came here to West Ham to play and show everyone what I could do and why the Club bought me. I enjoyed the pre-season stuff and then got the calf injury which has kept me out for a while.

"Recently I sustained a shoulder injury on international duty, but its not that bad and I'm pretty sure it won't keep me out for long. I've got to just keep going now in training, get some more Reserve games under my belt and get the match fitness up.

"While no one likes being out, you just want to be playing, everyone has been supportive here and have been helping me not only get over the injuries, but be part of the team. It's been like that since Gabbs and I arrived."

And as team-mate Danny Gabbidon who came to West Ham with him from Cardiff, has established a strong partnership at the back with Anton Ferdinand, James has had to watch from the sidelines as he battles back to fitness.

But the Newport-born defender is delighted with the way Welsh team-mate Gabbidon is doing.

He said: "It's funny because we've had this going now for a while, us playing together at Cardiff, for Wales and now at West Ham.

"Gabbs has done really well and the way I look at it is, I've got to aim to do the same when I'm handed my chance. There will be a fair bit of ribbing between us whoever is playing, but it's all good stuff."

And the ribbing is not confined to the pitch, with James laying claim to what must be one of the most original nicknames in football.

The flame-haired player is known simply as "Ginge" to everyone at West Ham United.

He joked: "Funnily enough, it's a nickname that has followed me everywhere, I can't think why!

"It's a name I certainly can't shake off, but it could be worse. There's a lot of good banter in the Hammers dressing room and I think that's also attributed to our good start."

It is this kind of spirit that will help Hammers in their aim to bounce back from the defeat at Manchester City against Middlesbrough at Upton Park and Collins will have to wait and see if he is fit enough for selection.

He admitted: "The team is learning all the time and as long as we can go into every game with the confidence that we have been doing, then we can get through all the tough tests that are put in front of us."