Collins keeping the faith

James Collins is targeting as quick a return as possible from his serious knee injury with surgery due next week before he begins on the road to recovery.

The Wales defender suffered damage to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a reserve-team outing at Portsmouth on 23 January - just as he was approaching full fitness and a return to regular first-team action. West Ham United head physiotherapist George Cooper is optimistic that Collins could yet return to play some part in pre-season training this summer.

"He has got a 75 per cent tear of his anterior cruciate ligament and that was diagnosed under arthroscopy which has made planning the operation much easier," he said. "There is going to be no surprises when they go inside the knee. They know what is going on in there." While it is difficult to predict yet when Collins will be ready to return, the hope is that he could resume training in six months.

Of the unfortunate injury itself, which came about when a Portsmouth player went over under pressure on the halfway line and landed on top of Collins' right knee, Cooper said: "The guy's fallen on him. It was a committed tackle which he does four or five times a day in training. It looked innocuous compared to the whole-hearted challenges he usually makes."

Speaking to the official matchday programme, Collins is ready to begin the "hard work" as soon as the operation is carried out. He added: "I think the minimum time I will be out is six months so that is what I am aiming towards. It is weird because I am not in any pain or anything. I can bend my knee no problem and even run already, which is what I am finding it hard to get my head round as I can do all that but I can't play football.

"However, I understand making any sort of tackle and kicking the ball, I would be in trouble so I just have to take my time, do as I am told by the physios and that way I will suffer no setbacks." Pledging to continue "supporting the boys every week", Collins said the strong team spirit at the club would help him cope with the lay-off. "This is the first long-term injury I have picked up so it is going to be tough to deal with, but everyone around me is really supportive, which always helps."

Meanwhile, Cooper said he was pleased with the prospects for Calum Davenport, who is also targeting a summer return after suffering a fracture to one of the vertebrae in his neck on 19 January during the first match of a loan at Watford. Cooper said: "I have to complement Watford for the impeccable way they handled it. Calum was lucky to have such a good team around him when it happened." Cooper said the initial "loss of power and pins and needles" Davenport felt was due to swelling. "That has now disappeared and he is expected to make a full recovery."