After scoring twice in the last three games for West Ham United, Carlton Cole is earning the plaudits he has worked so hard to attain. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by manager Alan Curbishley, who had the benefit of working closely with the Surrey-born centre-forward during his time at Charlton Athletic.
"I know Carlton well," said Curbishley. "I took him on loan at Charlton. He had a good run in the team for us and we asked to keep him on loan for another year."
The manager kept a close eye on Cole's career thereafter. "I didn't feel that it was the best move for him to go to Villa," he admitted. "He had to move everything up there and he got a bit lost there. He didn't have as big an impact as he should've done."
Although he signed for West Ham United in July last year, Cole, who turned 24 last month, had yet to impose himself in the side until injuries to Bobby Zamora and Dean Ashton this campaign gave him the opportunity to display his capabilities.
"I put him in the team to face Brighton in the FA Cup last season and he scored but he looked shattered," said Curbishley. "We continued with a fairly settled side towards the end of the season after that. I sat down with him over the summer and told him he needed to raise his fitness levels.
"When he got his chance he was fit enough to take it and there has been a big change in his fitness levels. He had got used to drifting and he wasn't taking his chance.
"There has been a significant change in Carlton Cole," Curbishley added. "He's got himself fit and now it's important to show what he can do. He's an explosive player but, like a lot of young players, you can get a bit lost sometimes.
"He's had to win people over here; me, the staff, the fans. They've not seen the best of him and now they are. He's grown up a bit. He has also been seeing a psychologist and he's applying himself to his profession. That is the most important thing."