Jim's Contract Extension

GOALKEEPER Jim Walker has signed a one-year extension to his West Ham United contract.

The 32-year-old was a hero of Hammers promotion to the Premiership last season, but damaged his cruciate knee ligament at the Millennium Stadium and is currently recovering from an operation to repair the damage.

The former Walsall and Notts County man, who is adored by the Hammers faithful, was delighted to sign the extension to his contract and admitted that he is grateful to the Club for standing by him after his injury.

"To be honest I'm really made up about the contract extension," revealed Jim. "The Club have really looked after me since the injury and I'm grateful for that.

"Last season worked out brilliantly with us winning promotion and although I worked hard last season and helped to get us there, football can be a cut throat business and you never know what will happen.

"That's why I'm really pleased at the way West Ham have handled it."

It is now seven weeks since Jim went under the knife to repair his damaged cruciate ligament, which occured when he landed awkwardly after claiming a high ball in the 1-0 over Preston.

The sight of Jim emerging from the dressing room, helped by goalkeeping coach Ludo Miklosko and team-mate Stephen Bywater, to celebrate with the fans is one of the enduring images of that memorable day in Cardiff.

Now he is just determined to get fit again, but Jim reveals that his recovery is progressing well.

"Things are going well and I'm pleased with the progress," he explained. "It's obviously still going to be some time before I'm able to play again, but it's seven weeks since the op now and so far so good.

"It's a long process, but in good have been a lot worse and in many ways I was quite fortunate, if that's the right word.

"At first they thought I had done the lot, basically damaged the entire knee. But as it turned out it was only the cruciate that was a problem and that's what I had done in the operation.

"To find out that it wasn't as bad as people first feared was a real bonus and it's given me something to work towards and aim for.

"I'm going to see the surgeon in four or five weeks and then I'll know a lot more about how far along I am. It's a little too early to put a timescale on when I can come back but I'm still determined to get back again before the end of the season.

"At the moment I'm just doing different things to control the swelling. I've been wearing this huge sock around the training ground for weeks which is doing my head in. The lads all have a good laugh at it!"

Jim admits that it's been hard to sit and watch the start of the season from the sidelines, especially as he is so close to fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing in the Premiership. But he has nevertheless been delighted with the start Hammers have made to the season.

"The lads have done brilliantly," he insisted. "It's been a strong start to the season and the atmosphere around the place is just unbelievable at the moment.

"It's obviously been hard to sit out, especially as it's always been my dream to play at the top level. But it's just been a case of accepting that the dream has to be put on ice for a while as I work hard to get fit again.

"I'm still really hopeful that I can play some part this season. I'd love to be involved in some way and hopefully I can get fit as quickly as possible.

"At the moment, I'm just focusing on making sure the knee heals up properly and that I recover fully from the injury.

"Even when I do get fit there are two great goalkeepers in front of me in Roy Carroll and Shaka Hislop and another great 'keeper in Steve Bywater out on loan, so it'll be far from easy for me to get back into the side.

"But all I want to do is get fit again and put myself in a position to compete for a first-team spot again. I'm determined to play at some point this season and hopefully, with a bit of hard work, I can do it."