Hines working hard

While his team-mates jet off on holiday or, in some cases, to the FIFA World Cup, Zavon Hines is planning for a summer of hard work at Chadwell Heath.

West Ham United's England Under-21 striker has been out of action with a knee problem since early December, having broken into the first team in dramatic fashion at the start of the season. Four months after being ruled out, Hines is stepping up his rehabilitation and hopes to be fit to join his team-mates in pre-season training.

"I'm going to start running in about a month and, according to the specialist, everything is going well up to now, so it's good," said the Jamaica-born star, who also overcame a knee injury while still in the Academy. "It's just a matter of time. I've got to let it heal and it depends how quickly that happens, then I'll take it from there.

"It's not been harder this time around. To be honest, it's easier, because I've gone through it before. I know what I've got to do and I'm just focusing on getting back to playing.

"I'm spending every day in the gym. I go swimming and running in the pool. I've just started doing that, and that's a big thing, so I've just got to keep going."

With his penchant for tackling centre-backs twice his size, winning penalties and scoring a dramatic late winner against Aston Villa, Hines has become a cult figure among Hammers fans - and he is eager to hear them cheering his name again next term.

"I'm itching to come back, to be honest. I can't wait. Seeing the players out there playing and the way the fans are towards the players when they're winning just makes me want to play even more.

"Obviously, I'm not going to rush it because it might be a bad thing for my career. I'll just take my time and hopefully, when I come back, it'll be for the best.

"I'll be in over the summer when everyone is off, running and see how my knee copes with that. Hopefully, by the time pre-season starts, depending on how my knee feels, I'll be able to start training. At the end of the day, it's up to the specialist."

The frustrating nature of a long-term injury can weigh on some players' minds, but Hines has drawn support and strength from a variety of sources.

"I came through the Academy with the other young lads and they, everyone in fact, has been supporting me. I've got to do everything I can to get fit myself, so that's what I'm going to do.

"My faith is also important to me, actually. I do go to church and I do believe in God and that everything happens for a reason and this is just a test for me and will do me good in the future."