Welcome to Nigel Reo-Coker's latest entry on whufc.com, as the Hammers skipper presents his exclusive online diary...
Monday, March 13
First of all, my apologies for missing a week of my regular column but I can assure you it would not have made very interesting reading! I was ill for the entire seven days, with a gastric virus that left me feeling totally drained and unable to train or play in the game up at Bolton on Saturday.
I returned to training this morning, still not feeling great, but with another massive game against Bolton, in the FA Cup on Wednesday night to look forward to, it was a case of trying to build my strength back up and hopefully feeling better as time went on. I did the warm-up with the rest of the lads to ease myself back into it, but didn't take part in the rest of the training session.
After lunch, I just headed home and went straight to bed, feeling very tired. The virus meant I lost a fair bit of weight and, even though I was over the worse of it, it was still going to take a fair bit of time to get out of my system.
Tuesday, March 14
With a game tomorrow, I took part in the full training session and began to feel a little better. We had our team meeting in the morning and training consisted of some small-sided games and team-play but, with a few injury doubts in the squad, the gaffer didn't name the starting line-up yet. I still wasn't feeling 100% but I felt as though I would be able to play against Bolton, and so made myself available to play.
With it being the day before a game, I didn't do anything or go anywhere on Tuesday afternoon, and spent the evening at home, resting in front of the television and watching Eastenders!
Wednesday, March 15
A midweek home matchday, so we met at Upton Park for around 11am, then headed off to the Marriott Hotel at Canary Wharf, where we had lunch, rest and pre-match before coming back to the stadium for the game.
I don't know what it was like to watch, but it was certainly tough to play in - as it always is against Bolton. They play with the extra man in midfield, which kills the space and makes it difficult to find any rhythm in your game.
I've got to be honest, I was very surprised that I managed to last 98 minutes or however long it was. I certainly could have done without extra-time and, as the game wore on, I began to get more and more tired. I didn't want to come off, but I was struggling towards the end, and Bolton were throwing everything at us after Marlon's goal, so Christian came on and his aerial power was a big factor.
In the end, it was a great team performance to see us through to the quarter-finals and, although we are facing another tough game against Manchester City, the boys were really confident in the dressing-room afterwards. Still, there were no post-match celebrations. We've got a big game against Portsmouth on Saturday and, with the way I was feeling after the game, it was just straight home to bed. Thanks to traffic on the A13, though, I still didn't get in until 1.30am!
Thursday, March 16
Came into training for a light warm-down session, feeling very tired and aching all over, so I just did some gentle exercises and then had a rub from one of our masseurs. Again, after lunch, I went straight home and stayed there for the rest of the day. I'd like to say that I went out doing lots of exciting things but I'd be lying! With the amount of games we are playing this week, the most important thing is the rest between matches, especially after being ill. I didn't even manage my regular visit over to my aunt's house at Elephant and Castle this week!
Friday, March 17
The day before our Premiership home game against Portsmouth, so we were in training for a team-meeting in the morning and then did the usual team-plays and small-sided games. With an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City on Monday, it looks like there will be some changes to the team, although the gaffer has said that he expects me to play in both matches. As I said to the lads, that's because I'm a finely-tuned machine! Seriously, it's not ideal for us to have to play two games in 48 hours, but there is nothing we can do about it, so we just have to get on with it and accept that is the price of success at the top level. We'd much rather be playing on in an FA Cup quarter-final than not, so I'm sure the squad will get through it.
Unfortunately, there hasn't been much for me to talk about in this column, but hopefully I'll be able to reflect on a much more exciting week after we've faced Manchester City!
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