Cup contest excites Collins

James Collins can remember the highs and lows of the FA Cup only too well having been an unused substitute in the dramatic final of 2006.

Collins had played key part in the 1-0 semi final win over Middlesbrough that had sent West Ham United to the Cardiff final, where they eventually lost a titanic duel with Liverpool on penalties. The Wales international wants to use that experience to help the current side embark on another famous run to the final at Wembley on 30 May. Having beaten Barnsley in the third round, the next obstacle is Saturday's game at Hartlepool United.

"We want to do as well as we can in the cup this year," Collins said. "We got to the final a couple of years ago and we want to do it again. We've trained hard all week and we will go to Hartlepool and give them the respect they deserve but obviously try to beat them. You have got to go there and have the right attitude - if we play the way we can play they really shouldn't be able to live with us."

With United going well in the Barclays Premier League, confidence is sky high and, although Saturday's game will present a different kind of test, Collins believes that the recent run of positive results will certainly have got the team in the right mindset. "We're concentrating on the league at the moment and trying to pick up as many wins as possible, but it never did anyone any harm getting in the routine of winning every game you play so we'll be looking to go there and get the win."

If the Hammers avoid defeat in the north east it will be three months undefeated away from the Boleyn Ground, which perhaps is a fitting tribute to the style and system Gianfanco Zola is gradually moulding his players into. The 25-year-old said: "We're playing really well at the minute and I think the luck has changed for us. When 'Mister' came in we were playing great football, just not getting the results but it's swung round and we're getting wins now.

"We've always been playing great football and it was just a matter of time before the results came. The manager kept saying that as long as you keep passing the ball and wanting the ball, you're going to start getting the results and that's what's happened."

The new-look strike partnership of Carlton Cole - with goals in each of his last five games - and David Di Michele showed real signs of promise in the 3-1 win at home to Fulham last weekend and the pair are set to get another chance to impress at Victoria Park. "The big man [Cole] is on fire. He's so valuable to us at the minute it's unbelievable. He's big, he's strong and holding the ball up and long may that continue.

"I thought David also did very well against Fulham after coming into the team in tough circumstances. There was a lot of talk going on off the pitch but David came in, put it all behind him and did really well."