Tomkins goes for hat-trick

James Tomkins insists West Ham United are still brimming confidence ahead of tonight's FA Cup fifth-round replay at Middlesbrough.

The England Under-19 defender could start at the Riverside Stadium in the absence of the injured James Collins. Tomkins replaced the Wales international early in the 2-1 Premier League defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and impressed with a mature, composed performance alongside Matthew Upson.

Having played in both the 3-0 third round win over Barnsley and the 2-0 fourth round success at Hartlepool United, the 19-year-old is hoping to complete his own FA Cup hat-trick of victories on Teesside. Despite the Hammers having lost their eight-match unbeaten away record at the Reebok Stadium, Tomkins and his team-mates are eager to get back to winning ways against Gareth Southgate's men.

"We are confident. Despite the result, we still played very well at Bolton. We had a lot of chances and created a lot of chances. If we weren't creating them then that's when you worry. The team was obviously down but we'll pick ourselves up quickly.

"I've played in the last two FA Cup games so it would be nice but nothing is guaranteed. If I get my chance I will give it my all but if I don't I will strive to get on."

Tomkins coped admirably with everything Bolton threw at him at the weekend, dealing with the considerable aerial threat of the powerful Kevin Davies. The performance illustrated the improvements the young centre-back has learned since making his Premier League debut at Everton in March last year.

Since then, he has made a total of nine league and cup appearances for the Hammers and also enjoyed a successful loan spell at Championship side Derby County. At Pride Park, Tomkins played seven league matches and also helped the Rams to reach the semi-finals of the Carling Cup. Both experiences have proved invaluable, as has been the opportunity to work with Hammers manager Gianfranco Zola.

"I played at the back-end of last year and felt I improved with each game I played and found out about the Premier League. I have also been on loan to Derby and learnt a lot about myself there. Physically, I feel I have come on much further than where I was at last year and feel that if I get my chance I can take it.

"It's a very demanding, very physical league in the Championship and I learnt a lot. I've been working hard in the gym because I know that's an area where I need to improve. I'm still young, though, and I'm sure my strength will come but it's something I wanted to get it earlier.

"I do think I've come on a lot compared to last year and the manager has a lot to do with that. I'm just trying to improve each time I play. He's not put any pressure on me but just told me to go out and play the way I do. He just gives you more confidence."