Freddie Sears is back at West Ham United and raring to go - starting with the small matter of an FA Cup tie against Arsenal at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday.
Still only 20, Sears spent the first half of the season on loan at Crystal Palace. He played 18 games in the Championship - many of which saw him played out wide rather than through the middle - and believed the experience would stand him in good stead for the future. He has been handed the No19 shirt and, after two run-outs over Christmas with Palace, is keen "to hit the ground running".
The Hornchurch-based striker added: "It feels good to be back. I have come in this morning and it was brilliant to see everyone. It was a different type of football at Palace. I was played a lot on the right wing. Sometimes that was good, sometimes it was frustrating if you are not in the game.
"You have just got to try and get the best out of the experience and that was the main aim. I had a great time there and couldn't knock it. There was not a minute of it I didn't like and they have helped me along. It has all been part of my learning curve."
As a lifelong Hammer and a product of the club's famed Academy, Sears is especially relishing the chance to figure in the FA Cup third round this weekend if selected. "It is a great game to come back to. You don't get any bigger than Arsenal in the FA Cup at Upton Park. The scene is set really. I just want to come back and do as well as I can.
"I went to the final in 2006 as a fan with my mum and dad. The FA Cup is massive for every club but for the fans here it is a cup that you can really get into. You never know, anything can happen and hopefully I will get a chance."
Sears burst on to the scene in March 2008 with a headed winner against Blackburn Rovers just five minutes after coming on as a substitute. The first of the current crop of homegrown Hammers to make his breakthrough, he is determined to fulfil his unquestioned potential and establish himself as a West Ham United regular. He is also eager to add to his England Under-21 experience.
"My game has changed a lot since that match against Blackburn. I am a better player. Training every day here does improve you and it makes you better as a person and player. I want to improve and get in the starting team here.
"The Palace experience has helped me. You grow up a lot when you leave the place where you know everything and have to start again. It is great to be able to come back and show that I have learned a lot. "