Desperate Dan

Danny Gabbidon says he can't wait to return to first team action after his frustrating spell on the sidelines.

Having sustained a nasty gash on his left knee during the 3-2 defeat at Blackburn on December 10, the Hammers defender made a return as a first-half substitute for Tomas Repka at Portsmouth on Boxing Day, but lasted just six minutes before a collision opened up the wound again and forced him back on to the sidelines.

With the injury now fully healed, though, the Welsh international is set for a return in our FA Cup third round clash at Norwich City and admits he is just relieved to be back in contention after the double set-back.

"It's been a tough few weeks," says the 26-year-old, "especially with the way things went at Portsmouth. At the time, it felt as though the wound had fully healed and I'd trained with no problems at all, so to open it up again after just a few minutes was a real blow.

"The injury probably sounded quite innocuous but it was a deep cut, and in an area that restricted my movement. As a defender, you are always sliding about and making challenges, so it's the worse possible place to suffer a cut like that.

"In hindsight, maybe the stitches came out a bit too soon, but we didn't think that at the time, and really it was just one of those things. It was a case of back to square one then, having it re-stitched, but they've been left in a bit longer this time, and hopefully there won't be any further problems with it. I'm just desperate to get back to playing now."

Having to sit out on the sidelines as Hammers suffered a sticky run of results over the holiday period certainly left Danny in frustrated mood but, with a return now imminent, he is back in a positive frame of mind and hoping to make his first FA Cup appearance in a claret and blue shirt this weekend.

"Any player will tell you that being injured when your team play is the most frustrating thing in the world," he says. "There were a lot of games over Christmas that I would have loved to be involved in, and it was made worse by the fact that we didn't get the results we were looking for.

"That's gone now, though, and I'm just looking forward to being involved again. I've managed to keep my general fitness up while I've been out, and now I just need to get my match fitness going again.

"Hopefully I will be involved against Norwich, and it's one we are all looking forward to. It's a nice break from the Premiership but we will still be fully focused and the FA Cup means a lot to everyone at the club.

"No matter what the competition, you want to win the matches you play. Winning breeds confidence and this is a great chance for us to get things back on track for the second half of the season."