Danny Gabbidon has touched down in Austria and is ready to take the next steps on his road to recovery after a successful first outing for the club in 18 months.
The 29-year-old defender played the second half of the 2-1 friendly win against Grays Athletic on Sunday and, aside from tiredness, came through unscathed. He then boarded the flight to Austria early on Monday morning with the rest of the squad - including new recruit Luis Jimenez who said 'hello' to his team-mates for the first time - ahead of a ten-day training camp.
"It feels really good to be back," said Gabbidon, who last played a first-team fixture in December 2007. "It has been quite a long time. I have had a few problems with injuries. It was nice to have a run-out at Grays and we got a good result as well so it was a good start to pre-season."
The arrival of Jimenez has given everyone an extra lift and Gabbidon said he was looking forward to seeing more new recruits. "Luis is a very good player so he will be a good addition to the squad. We did really well last season, I thought, so we will be looking to improve on that this season. If we can bring in a couple of quality players that is going to help things. I look forward to training with him."
Regardless of who he will be lining up alongside on the training pitches out in Austria, the Wales centre-back is just delighted to be pulling on his boots again. He explained his absence had come about after an intensive few years of top-level football. "It has just been a bit of wear and tear really from playing so long with a few problems and I just carried on playing. It kind of got worse.
"I developed some problems with my back and groin and it just proved quite hard to get rid of the problem. I have had to be patient. I have done a lot of work with the physios at West Ham and finally I have got there and it is nice to be back out on the pitch and performing in a West Ham shirt.
"There are a lot more games throughout pre-season so hopefully by the time the season comes around I will be in good shape and ready to go."