The Big Interview - Jack Collison

Jack Collison returns to Wales duty for the first time since August 2013 on Wednesday evening, when Chris Coleman's side take on Iceland in Cardiff.

The West Ham United No10 has great memories of playing at the Cardiff City Stadium, having helped the Hammers to a Play-Off semi-final victory there in May 2012, as well as a pair of other important league wins in recent seasons.

With Wales drawn alongside Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Cyprus and Andorra in qualifying for the 24-nation 2016 UEFA European Championship, the 25-year-old is hoping to represent his country at their first major finals since the 1958 FIFA World Cup.

Jack, you have a big game with Wales to look forward to in the shape of an international friendly with Iceland in Cardiff. I expect you are looking forward to pulling on the red shirt again?

JC: "Yeah, it's our first game since the group was drawn for Euro 2016, so it'll be good to get together and obviously look ahead to the games we have got in qualifying over the next 18 months or so. It's a great place to start, at home against Iceland."

The Wales manager Chris Coleman has been quite bullish about your qualification chances. Do you share his optimism?

JC: "Definitely. Especially with the players we have got, the boys who were young and up and coming are starting to come into their own a little bit now. They will be peaking over the next year or so.

"Gareth Bale has gone on to be an absolute superstar at Real Madrid and Aaron Ramsey has been magnificent this season for Arsenal, while the likes of Sam Vokes has scored about 20 goals this season in the Championship.

"It's a fantastic group of players and, as Chris Coleman has already said, if he can get his team together and everyone fit, I think we can give anyone a good game on the night.

"It's a very tricky group, as every group is, but you've got to fancy your chances of doing as well as you can. We've got a nice start [away to Andorra] and we'll look to build off that, really."

Iceland at home may not have been an attractive fixture a few years ago, but they got to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Play-Offs and have a few players in the top European leagues, so it should be a competitve game.

JC: "Everyone is looking forward to it. It's a nice chance for everyone to meet up and, for me, I haven't had a Wales game in a while so it's good. Even though it's a friendly, there's going to be a lot riding on it.

"The group for the Euros has been drawn, so it gets a bit more real. For Wales, it's about qualifying for Euro 2016 and everything is geared towards that. Everyone will be looking to put in a good performance for the manager."

And, of course, you love playing at the Cardiff City Stadium...

JC: "Yes, we always seem to do well at Cardiff. Here at West Ham we got another magnificent win there this season and it was nice to play a part in that game. On a personal level, hopefully I'll get on the pitch and put in a good performance."

Talking of West Ham, our recent positive run of results and lack of injuries has led to a settled side and less opportunities for some players. Has that been frustrating?

JC: "That's part and parcel of the game. If you look at the quality of our squad, there are 22 outfield players and there is a lot of quality not even making the bench, let alone the starting XI. There is a lot of competition for places.

"The boys have been magnificent, so there has been no reason for the manager to change it too much. They have got the shirts at the moment and, if they keep producing, they deserve to keep them.

"The likes of myself and others are disappointed and are working hard in training so when that opportunity comes, it's up to us to take it and keep hold of the shirt."

Our next Barclays Premier League game is at Stoke City, where you scored the winner last season. So, it would be the perfect place to break into the side and do it again!

JC: "Definitely! That win last year came at a very important time in the season for us. We were down in 14th and had lost four of our previous five league games and struggling a little bit, so the win was massive.

"The run we've been on, we'll look to go there and do the same again and get the three points. It would be nice to get another clean sheet and keep progressing, because we've been on a good run of form and want to keep looking forward rather than behind us."

Just lastly, going back to international football, the England squad was named for the friendly with Denmark but there were no places for West Ham players. Were you surprised?

JC: "When I looked at the squad, I was hoping one or two of our boys would be in it. Obviously, Andy Carroll is desperate to be playing not just for us, but for England.

"If you look beyond Andy, James Tomkins has been magnificent for us since he has been in the side. We'd kept four clean sheets in five games before the weekend and he's been fantastic.

"Mark Noble is what he is and I don't know if he can do much more. Not only has he been our best player this season, but he's been the best player on the pitch a lot of the time. For him, it must be disappointing, and for us we want our players knocking on Roy Hodgson's door and making the England squad.

"If you look at Southampton with four players in, it does show it is possible for slightly smaller clubs to get there, so hopefully our lads will keep doing well and, sooner or later, they will get their chance."