Players back in action

Chadwell Heath came alive again on Thursday as the West Ham United first-team squad returned for pre-season training.

The training ground was once more in full swing with plenty of good-natured banter ringing out as the coaching staff put the players through their paces on a sunny morning. It was the first day back for all since the end of the season on 11 May although several players such as Lucas Neill and Lee Bowyer have been coming in for extra work. Today, Carlton Cole was the first to show on the newly-laid pitches while George McCartney and Matthew Etherington were sporting new short haircuts.


Among those also taking part in the group session were fit-again Craig Bellamy, Matthew Upson and Julien Faubert while Kieron Dyer and James Collins were also involved as part of their personal programmes. A five-strong contingent of goalkeepers - namely Robert Green, Richard Wright, Jimmy Walker, Marek Stech and David Blackmore - did specialist work with coach Ludek Miklosko.

With just two weeks to go until the first pre-season friendly away to Hampton and Richmond Borough, the players were very quickly down to business with an extra session in the afternoon. The day also included an intense session of gym work while it was also the first opportunity to try out the new Barclays Premier League official match ball, which will be used competitively for the first time when it all kicks off against Wigan Athletic at the Boleyn Ground on 16 August. Watch out for reaction and video coverage to come on