Welcome to Nigel Reo-Coker's latest entry on whufc.com, as the Hammers skipper presents his exclusive online diary...
Friday, February 17
I'd gone home early from training on Thursday after not feeling too good, but thankfully I felt much better this morning and was able to declare myself fit and raring to go for the FA Cup fifth round match at Bolton on Saturday. Tim the chef cooked my usual Friday breakfast of Spanish omelette when I got in, and training then consisted of a team meeting in the morning, followed by our usual team-plays and set-pieces. After a spot of lunch, I then drove to Stansted Airport to meet up with the rest of the squad for our flight to Manchester in the afternoon. We go on a small charter plane from the Inflight centre at the airport, which saves us having to go through the regular check-in process, and the flight to Manchester takes about 40 minutes. I'm not the biggest fan of flying, and I'm certainly not too keen on those small planes that only hold 20 or 30 people. Thankfully, the turbulence wasn't too bad today, so I just put my iPod headphones on and closed my eyes for the duration of the flight! After landing we took the coach to the hotel and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing. I room with Hayden Mullins on away trips and we just watched a bit of TV before having an early night.
Saturday, February 18
Woke up at about 9.30am, had a bit of breakfast and then read the Saturday papers before meeting up for our pre-match at 11.45am. It was Anton's 21st birthday today, so all the lads wished him happy birthday but, with a big game to focus on, there were no practical jokes or pranks played on him. We then took the short coach journey to the Reebok Stadium, and saw plenty of Hammers fans on the way. The game itself was a difficult one - we always knew they would make it tough for us and it was just a case of digging in and grinding out a result. The pitch made it even worse, because we couldn't really get the ball down and play our normal passing game, but we all came off the pitch at the end feeling that it was a job well done. Sometimes, when you're not playing as well as you can, it's important just to stick together and get a result, and I thought we did that well. The fans were marvellous once again, and we're all looking forward to the replay at Upton Park now. I'm sure the atmosphere will be fantastic and the players are all determined to produce a quality performance to get us through to the quarter-finals. After flying back to Stansted after the game, a few of the lads went out with Anton and some of his old school friends to celebrate his 21st. We had a nice meal in TGI Friday and then went on to a club in the West End - a good night was had by all!
Sunday, February 19
With a two-week break to look forward to after yesterday's game, we've been given a couple of days off, which is a rare luxury after playing on a Saturday. I spent most of the day at home doing nothing before heading into town in the early evening to attend a surprise birthday party for Anton. He had all of his family and friends there, and quite a few of the players made it along, so it was a really enjoyable night and I think Anton had a good time.
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Monday, February 20
Nice to have a Monday off and I spent the whole day doing what I do best on my day off…absolutely nothing! The most I did was go to visit my mum in the afternoon, just to see how she was and collect some food that she had prepared for me. My freezer has been looking a bit empty lately, so I had to stock up again and mum always comes up trumps for me! Obviously we were in the FA Cup quarter-final draw on Monday afternoon but, to be honest, I didn't really take much notice of it. We are not in the quarter-finals yet, and the only thing that the lads are concentrating on is the fifth round replay against Bolton.
Tuesday, February 21
Back to training today, and it was just a fairly light technical session, split into groups. I was with Hayden, Anton, Clive Clarke and David Cowley from the youth team, and we were working in the new 'Technical Pen' at Chadwell Heath. It's a small astro-turf area, with four small goals - one at each end and on each side. We worked on quick shooting and passing for about an hour, then came in for lunch. In the afternoon, I went shopping with Bobby Zamora and Anton up at Bond Street - I bought a nice jacket in Oswald Boateng - and then Anton and I headed back to Upton Park to take part in a fan forum with the Bondholders and their guests.
It was the first time I've done anything like that and it was certainly an interesting experience! The fans seemed to enjoy the evening and there was a variety of questions asked. One guy made a comment about some of the goal celebrations that have been on display this season - but I think he was aiming it solely at Anton!
Wednesday, February 22
A real tough training session today. With no game at the weekend, Niall Clark worked us really hard as we would be getting more recovery time. We did an intense six v six keep-ball session, then did a core and strength session with the weights, before enjoying a Mexican lunch - Tim prepared fajitas, chilli and various other spicy stuff! In the afternoon, I had a text from an FA association, informing me that I had been selected for the under-21 squad to play in a friendly against Norway at Reading next week. Obviously it would have been a dream to have been called up to the full squad but, to be honest, I wasn't expecting it, and I'm more than happy to continue my progress under Peter Taylor in the under-21s. Both myself and Anton are still very young, with a lot of time on our side, and the most important thing is that we just continue to focus on playing well for West Ham.
Thursday, February 23
Because of the fact that we will have to join up with the England under-21 squad on Sunday, myself and Anton were given an extra day off today and, with the whole squad given the coming weekend off, we decided to head off for a nice little weekend break at a secret location! It's nice to get away from football for a few days, especially ahead of what will hopefully be a busy and successful next couple of months.
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