Collison ready for another first

Jack Collison is hoping to put the seal on a superb breakthrough season for club and country with his first cap for Wales this week.

The 19-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 12 months. First, he played a full part in Alan Curbishley's pre-season plans last summer before being appointed captain of Kevin Keen's reserves. After promising form for the second string, he earned the first of five Wales Under-21 caps and then made his first team debut away to Arsenal on New Year's Day. He got his first start at Bolton Wanderers in April and has capped it all with being called up for Wales' senior friendlies away to Iceland on Wednesday and in the Netherlands next Sunday.

Collison, who qualifies to play for John Toshack's side through his grandfather and has seen his chances increase with Simon Davies and Paul Parry withdrawing, said: "I was really happy to get the letter through about going to Iceland and Holland with the senior squad. Obviously it is going to be a massive opportunity. It is what everyone dreams of and it is what I am striving to achieve. If I get the chance to play I have got to take it." The midfielder could find himself lining up alongside club-mate and international captain Craig Bellamy - a major influence on his decision to play for Wales and he has taken the youngster under his wing.

"I had a little word with Bellars about these games and he is hoping to be involved. He has been stepping up his training and will be about ready for a match by the time the Iceland game comes around," Collison added. If Bellamy does figure in Reykjavik it will be his 50th international cap and Collison knows he has a long way to go to live up to his illustrious colleague. "Obviously making the breakthrough was the hard part but the work begins now and I hope to play a bigger part for West Ham next season. Looking back I didn't expect what happened to happen. I have made my full debut and it would be nice to end it all with a cap for Wales."

Certainly his form has captured Bellamy's eye. The 28-year-old striker said: "He is a good player but one thing I like about Jack the most is he has got a special attitude. He wants to be first at everything, even in things like sprinting.. He wants to really improve and that is what I look for. This boy will work and wants to give everything. If you have got that attitude with ability you have got a really good chance."