Ginge delighted with Downing form

James Collins making a block is a sight West Ham United fans have become accustomed to during his two spells in Claret and Blue.

At Stoke City, Ginge was at it again, throwing his body in front of anything that moved in and around the Hammers penalty area.

While one such block inadvertently led to Stoke's opening goal in Saturday's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw, Collins emerged with immense credit from yet another all-action performance.

The Hammers fell two goals down to strikes from Victor Moses and Mame Biram Diouf, but recovered to snatch a point through Enner Valencia's diving header and Stewart Downing's first-time finish.

"It was hard in the first half because they made it tough for us," said the Wales international. "We weren't great but Stoke played very well. We stayed in the game and with the firepower we've got we knew we'd get chances.

"I had to play like I did and coming to Stoke I knew it was going to be like that. It was one of those days where it fell on my head or I managed to get a block on it.

"I was disappointed to concede two goals but we managed to get back into it. It's nice to be back in the team and playing in a confident, winning team.

"We knew it was going to be tough without Diafra Sakho, who everybody has been talking about for weeks now, but it shows the strength in depth we have now with boys coming in and playing very well.

"We've come to Stoke, a very tough game, and somehow from 2-0 down we've come back to 2-2 and everybody is delighted."

While Collins himself was impressive, the impact made by Downing was outstanding yet again, with the No11 picking up his fourth assist and second goal of a superb season so far.

The centre-back believes it will not be long before the wider football world give Downing the credit he deserves for his outstanding form.

"It's no surprise to me because I obviously had three years at Aston Villa with him as well before he came down here.

"Stewie is a world-class player whether it's behind the strikers, in central midfield or out wide. The Gaffer asked him to play out wide because of Diafra Sakho's injury and again he's put in a great performance, set a goal up and scored one. You can't ask for much more.

"I've been fortunate enough to play and train with him for a number of years now and good players can play anywhere.

"I think he deserves the recognition because he is playing superbly at the minute. He is probably the driving force in our team, whether it's through the middle or out wide. It's nice to see him getting back in the limelight.

"If he keeps playing the way he is playing, I'm sure an England call-up will not be far away."

While Downing already has 33 England caps to his name, Collins believes Mark Noble, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell should also come into Roy Hodgson's thoughts if they maintain their current form.

"I think we've got a number of players in our squad who should be pushing for England places - Mark Noble to name one, Stewie and the two full-backs who are playing great.

"It's all coming down to their club form and long may that form continue.

"I'm sure if Roy Hodgson comes down to watch the boys when he can, he will see consistent performers who play very well for their club. For me, I don't know what more they can do."