Happy Hines

What a difference a year makes.

Before Tuesday's epic Carling Cup quarter-final, the last time Zavon Hines had pulled on a West Ham United first-team shirt was in the 4-0 home league defeat by Manchester United on 5 December 2009.

Six days short of a year later, Hines made his comeback as a second-half substitute in the Hammers' unforgettable slaying of the holders at the Boleyn Ground.

The final score? 4-0.

For Hines, the statistical irony of his return was eclipsed by his double delight at being back in action and helping his side through to the semi-finals for the first time in 21 years

"It was good to be back and I'm just glad that we won," Hines told WHUTV.

"We don't want to take our foot off the pedal. We're having a good moment at this time - we won on Saturday [against Wigan Athletic] and we won on Tuesday, so we want to continue and beat Sunderland on Sunday. These are good times right now."

Hines had played twice for the reserves before his first-team return, scoring in last week's 2-1 defeat by Chelsea, but he still has work to do before he reaches full match-fitness.

"I'm not 100 per cent fit just yet, but I'm getting there. It has been a long time but it's just part of football, so just deal with it.

"I just want to ease my way back into the squad and then hopefully get into the starting XI when my fitness is up. We'll just have to see how it goes."

Throughout his spell on the sidelines, the England Under-21 forward received words of support from his club-mates, most notably fellow long-term absentees Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon and close friend Junior Stanislas.

"The lads have supported me. Obviously Kieron and Gabbs have been through it and they spoke to me and told me what to do, so right now I'm just happy to be back and supporting the team."

Hines is now keen to give his own support to his colleagues and was delighted to see Carlton Cole bang in two goals to cement West Ham's midweek victory over the Red Devils.

"It's obviously good for him because he hasn't scored that often and has had a hard time of late. It was good for him to get those two goals and hopefully he can push on."