Jimmy delighted to be back in action

Jimmy Walker continues his comeback from injury with another appearance for the reserves on Wednesday night, and says it's great to be back between the sticks.

The Hammers goalkeeper will be in action again for Kevin Keen's team against Chelsea at Dagenham and Redbridge following his return a week ago in a 5-2 victory over Leicester City at Upton Park - his first taste of action since last year's Play-Off final at the Millennium Stadium.

Despite his comeback game being staged in slightly less glamorous surroundings, Jimmy was just delighted to be pulling on the number one shirt again and admits that preparing for the match felt like a whole new experience.

"It was just great to be back involved and out on the pitch again," he says. "The Club did well for me, too, staging the game at Upton Park, and it was lovely to arrive at the ground and head to the dressing-room knowing I would be playing.

"Mind you, it's been so long that I forgot what to do! I'm sure I used to have a routine - putting my pads on first, that sort of thing, but it was like starting all over again and I had to create a whole new routine!

"The game itself was fine, though. Funnily enough, in the very first minute, they swung a big cross over and it dropped in a similar position to where I suffered my injury - right on the edge of the box. I knew I had to go for it, and the feeling of catching the ball, landing perfectly and then throwing the ball out was lovely.

"All in all, I felt fine. My timing was obviously a little bit out - that's only natural - but I coped with everything else okay and the knee was fine. I was straight in the ice bath afterwards as a precaution but, touch wood, I've had no problems at all with it."

And despite it being a freezing cold February night at the Boleyn Ground last Wednesday, a decent-sized crowd turned out to witness Jimmy's return - a gesture that didn't go unnoticed.

"Yeah, I heard that Jose Mourinho wasn't very happy, because my comeback took a few off the gate at the Chelsea-Barcelona game!" laughs the 32-year-old.

"Seriously, I was grateful to everyone who turned up to support me, and the fans have been superb full stop, to be honest.

"It can be easy for people to forget about you when you're not involved but every single supporter I've bumped into has asked me how the knee is and wished me all the best.

"That means a lot to me, and it has really spurred me on to work as hard as I can and get back to full fitness as soon as possible."

With Roy Carroll possibly ruled out for the rest of the campaign after undergoing an operation on his troublesome back problem, Jimmy's return to action couldn't have been better timed.

Alan Pardew suggested last week that the need to bring in another senior goalkeeper wasn't so urgent considering the imminent return of the former Walsall stopper, who admits that he now has the Premiership in his sights.

"It was nice of the gaffer to say that," says Jimmy. "He asked me recently how it was going and, to be honest, I think he was a bit surprised at how far down the road I am.

"I've got to say, I've surprised myself a little bit. This has been the hardest I've ever worked and I feel generally fitter than ever before. My surgeon, Andy Williams, who carried out the operation back in July, has been absolutely superb - there for me every step of the way - and he has told me that this could even extend my career because of the work I have done to get myself fit.

"I tell you, it would be a dream to play in the Premiership before the end of the season, an absolute dream. I think I played the final 11 games last season, so I've told the gaffer that I'll come back and lead us to glory again if he wants me to!"