Collison ready for Noble

Jack Collison is looking forward to facing team-mate Mark Noble in tonight's European Under-21 Championship play-off.

The central midfielders will go head-to-head for their countries in the first leg at Ninian Park with the winner after Tuesday's return at Villa Park securing a place at the finals in Sweden next summer. Collison, already a senior international, will don the red shirt of Wales, while Noble will be wearing the three lions of England.

"I am looking forward to playing against Mark, we get on well and there has been plenty of banter between us since the draw paired Wales with England," said the 20-year-old Collison. "It will be very interesting when we face each other. Obviously he is a rival for a midfield place at West Ham, but I train with him every day so I know a lot about him."

Collison, who made his first-team debut last season against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, also spoke about his enjoyment of life under Gianfranco Zola. He said: "He has been brilliant, a breath of fresh air. Training has been very sharp, and he is very bright and approachable with the boys, a lot of one-on-one stuff and I am really enjoying it.

"He has taken some players aside and helped them on an individual basis. I saw him take Freddie Sears aside and help him with his finishing. With me, he said that I need to work on some technical aspects of my game and long passing. He did 15 minutes with me, and all things like that will help my game," he added.

"He said that I need to be patient and wait for my chance, and I will get one. So at the moment I will work hard, and these two matches against England are a great opportunity for me to impress."

Collison has also prospered by working with Craig Bellamy, the captain of the Wales senior side. He said: "He is great on the training pitch and is a really good professional. But he is always there for advice for younger players, we just need to watch him train, the extra sessions he does, and he is always right in what he does. He keeps you on your toes in training and tells you the good things and bad things you do to help you improve your game.

"He was in most days over the summer trying to get fit, even when the other players were off. He had a setback in pre-season and now he is raring to go. He scored a lot of goals in pre-season and looked very sharp."