'We're back in the swing of it'

Joe Cole is relishing being back in pre-season training and is looking forward to his first full season back with West Ham United.

Cole, who returned to the Hammers in January, is currently working hard alongside his team-mates in Cork as the team prepare for the new Barclays Premier League campaign.

Speaking after a hard session at the University College Cork (UCC), where the players were able to make full use of the state-of-the-art facilities, Cole said he was feeling good.

"We're back in the swing of it all now, having returned to pre-season on Monday and flying out here to Cork to work on our fitness," said the No26, who has happily met fans of all ages in Ireland. "We are looking to be strong and continue where we left off last season. It is a steady but upward curve, focusing on our fitness and looking to go one better than last season."

Cole said training was going well in Cork, with the players doing a mixture of ball and gym work plus cycling and pool sessions. Sunday will then see the Hammers take on League of Ireland Premier Division Cork City at Turner's Cross - their first game since returning to pre-season earlier this week.

"I am enjoying it. We are being put through our paces but it has all been good and Cork is lovely. It is the first time playing in Cork for me, but we're really looking forward to the match, which is our first pre-season game.

"It will be good to get out there and have some game time under our belts and the aim for all of us will be to get through the match all ok and we're looking forward to seeing fans and the people of Cork.

"After what will be a full week's training, it will be a good test for us against this Cork side early on, to start everything going again."

Cole said while specific targets are being put into place for the team this year, his main aim is to be fit and healthy and play his part in taking West Ham to another level.

"It has been great for me to be back at West Ham and I am delighted to be here, as I said when I returned. First and foremost, I want to do my best so make sure I stay fit and in shape, playing for the team and helping the Club to progress.

"It has all gone well and I am just excited to be back now. Hopefully I can enjoy a strong pre-season and be raring to go for the start which is only just over six weeks away.

"Having a week and a trip like this has enabled us to get the juices flowing again, the banter has started in earnest around the place and it is an enjoyable set-up to be part of. We have been doing a mix of things this week, so that has been good, it helps to get everything and everyone moving in the right direction."

Cole is often asked about regaining a place in the England national team and the 56-times capped midfielder says that playing well for the Hammers could help him to reach that target.

"I would like to think with the experience I have that I can do a job for England and be part of the set-up still. But first things first, playing for West Ham and doing my best for the team and keeping fit is what I must do and then, yes you never know where that leads with regards international football again."

Cole was up again early on Friday morning as he and the rest of the squad took part in cycling and pool sessions before they will go on again to further work on the pitch.

The 31-year-old is looking to help West Ham to get off to a good start when they host Cardiff City at the Boleyn Ground in their opening league fixture on 17 August.

"Pre-season has started, we have a new kit, everything is fresh and we're looking forward to getting in front of our fans again this season. I want to do my bit in helping the club progress and have an even better season than last year."