Dan Kemp says he can’t wait to return to action for West Ham United as he completes his recovery from an eleven month injury lay-off.
The winger – who ruptured his cruciate ligament last year – has not played a competitive match since last November but is now ready to team up with the U23s for his first matchday squad of the 2018/19 season when the Hammers host Swansea City.
Liam Manning and Steve Potts’ side take on the Swans in Premier League 2 on Sunday afternoon at Dagenham and Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium and Kemp, who took part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against QPR last week, is likely to be involved.
The England youth international is excited to get back on the pitch and praised the staff at the Academy of Football’s Chadwell Heath for their help during his long period on the sidelines.
“It’s great to be back doing what I love doing most – playing football,” he said. “All the staff and players at the Academy have been fantastic with me and helped me in every way. I can’t thank them enough.
“In particular, I need to say a big thanks to the people I worked most with such as Tom Smith [Academy Head of Medical and Sports Science] and Matt Bramhall [Academy Head of Athletic Development]. Both were amazing with me and pivotal to me returning in such good physical condition.
“Terry Westley [Academy Director] and Adam Raimes’ [Head of Academy Operations] support has been amazing also constantly checking on my progress and encouraging me throughout. I must also thank James Gritt [Academy Sports Scientist] who taxied me in for up to six weeks at the start when I couldn’t drive as I was on crutches!”
Kemp was in terrific form for the U23s before he was ruled out last season, having scored three times and assisting two in 13 matches.
The 19-year-old is hoping he can pick up from where he left off after remaining mentally positive throughout his time in the treatment room.
It’s great to be back doing what I love doing most. All the staff and players at the Academy have been fantastic with me. I can’t thank them enough.
“Injuries never come at a good time, but I intend to come back and regain the form that I was showing prior to my injury at a minimum,” he continued. “I am hungry to return to the side, impress the first team manager and staff, train with them regularly, and start to push for a first team appearance and return to the England setup.
“A positive mental attitude was so important when I was out. I quickly channeled the frustration of being injured into positive energy towards coming back stronger and more resilient to setbacks.
“I was continually thinking about how good I will feel when I return and hopefully now all the hard work will be worth it. I’ve been working hard on strengthening my knee and the conditioning work around that, going to watch live games and studying the game’s elite players.”
Last season, the Hammers were 5-2 winners over Sunday’s south Wales opponents at home, with Kemp scoring from 40 yards in his team’s emphatic victory, something he would love to replicate this weekend.
“Last year was a great performance and win for us against Swansea and I’d like to think we are more than capable of repeating this on Sunday.
“Obviously the goal I scored was a good moment for myself but a tap in from one-yard out would be equally as satisfying for me on Sunday. One thing I do know for sure, it will be great to be back in a West Ham shirt!”
Season Ticket Holders and Claret Members can attend Sunday’s game, which kicks off at 1pm, for free, while adults and concessions’ tickets are priced at £5 and £3 respectively.