James Tomkins is hungrier than ever to let his football do the talking once again after recovering from the injuries that curtailed him at the end of last season.
The imposing central defender endured a frustrating stop-start campaign last year but after coming through two games in the last few weeks - Tuesday's 1-0 reserve win against Tottenham Hotspur and the youth team's recent 4-1 victory over Chelsea - Tomkins is in fine fettle. "I am delighted to be back playing and the most important thing, feeling really fit and raring to go," said the 18-year-old.
"When you do come back after a time out, you are not sure how long it will be until you are feeling at the top of your game again and in the reserve match earlier this week, I knew it would be a test for me as it was a big pitch and it was a case of seeing how much I could get about and keeping everything steady.
"But I was really pleased with how I coped and as the game went on, I grew in confidence. Calum Davenport was great to play alongside, he and John Pantsil were continually talking to me throughout the game and that gave me an extra boost."
The England youth international suffered two shoulder injuries last season, the latter picked up as the campaign was ending but an operation in the summer has corrected that and all Tomkins can think about now is playing games, training with the first team and putting in the sort of performances that may catch the eye of manager Alan Curbishley.
"It is a case of me taking it match by match, but I think having had to spend time out on the sidelines, it has simply made me even hungrier. For me, the aims for this season are the same as the ones I set myself last year, in that I want to play as much as I can and as well as I can for both youth and reserves.
"The gaffer watches reserves games and if I am doing well, then who knows. Training with the first team with all the good players we have at the club, on a regular basis is also good for me and can only help improve my game no end."
Tomkins is certainly hungry to learn and he said if it means him stepping up his game, he would be happy to go out on loan to gain some first-team experience. He said: "The ultimate aim is to secure a regular place in the reserves and work my way if I can into the first team here. But if the club feels that a loan spell somewhere will help me, then I will be only too happy to do that. It would give me first team experience on a regular basis, increase my confidence and hopefully help me towards the long-term goals I have for playing at West Ham."