Jarrod Bowen is looking forward to Saturday’s return to action following West Ham United’s winter break.
Bowen and his teammates took a few days for rest mid-season last week and have returned to training with renewed enthusiasm and excitement, as the side prepares for the Emirates FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
The versatile forward has been one of the Irons’ most featured players so far this campaign, registering just shy of 2,500 minutes played in 32 matches, and was grateful for the opportunity to reset.
Speaking to West Ham TV, Bowen said: “It was nice to switch off from football for a few days and have a little break and see the family.
“Resetting both psychically and mentally is a big part of it. There was a lot of games before the break, so it was nice to switch off from football for a little bit. With all the games and the emotions that come with them, it’s just nice to completely switch off and kind of forget about football for a couple of days. I think that’s important for a player.
“We’ve had a good week; it was nice but we’re back to it now and we’re having another good week. We’re ready to go again for the second half of the season.”
Images and clips from this week’s training sessions at Rush Green, under the watchful eye of manager David Moyes and his coaching staff, showed the first-team players in good spirits as they prepared for this weekend’s match.
“I think people looking in can see that this is a really high spirit group,” Bowen continued. “Being away from each other for a week and then seeing each other again, it’s nice.
“It’s nice for everyone to see all the faces again and our spirits are really high.”
In Kidderminster Harriers, West Ham are preparing to face a team currently sat third in the National League North Table, the sixth tier in English football, making them the lowest ranked club left in the FA Cup.
As someone who has come through the non-league ranks and knows first-hand just what the magic of the FA Cup is all about, Bowen is certain many neutral football fans will want the storybook journey of the Harriers to continue into the fifth round. Set to be a part of the Premier League side that visits Aggborough Stadium, the 25-year-old says the onus is on West Ham to show their quality.
Bowen said: “Kidderminster want to be the giant killers, and I’m sure many football fans want to see the giant killing. But, being a player for the Club that’s going to the team that’s giant-killed, we’ve got to be very confident but also very cautious of them.
“We’ve got to respect them, but also play our game and focus on getting through to the next round.”
Bowen has fond memories of the FA Cup, too.
The Hammers No20 can recall his boyhood club Hereford United beating local rivals Shrewsbury in the competition back in 2012, when he was just a teenager.
“Growing up a Hereford fan, one of my best memories was the Hereford – Shrewsbury game, which is the local derby back home. I remember watching that at Edgar Street and Hereford won 3-1 against Shrewsbury.
“I can’t remember if Shrewsbury were in League Two or the Conference then (they were in the League One, while Hereford were in the Conference), but they were a league above Hereford, so with it being the local derby and going to watch that game, that’s one of the memories I have from the FA Cup.
“One of the funny memories too is when Manchester United played Portsmouth and I think my sister was born that day! I remember watching it at my nan’s house and then I think we got a phone-call from my mum and dad that my little sister was born. I’m sure that was an FA Cup game!”
Bowen is proud of what the Irons have accomplished so far this campaign. Firmly in the race for European football at the top end of the Premier League, and through to the UEFA Europa League round of 16, the 25-year-old is hopeful West Ham can keep their fine form going in the FA Cup as well.
“We’ve done really well in every competition so far,” he added. “We had a really good run in the Carabao Cup and we were disappointed to go out. We’re still in the knock-out rounds of the Europa League and, in the Premier League, we’re doing well as well.
“The FA Cup is another competition we want to go into and hopefully get silverware at the end of the season. But it’s a long way to go and we’ll take each game as it comes. But this is a really good chance on Saturday to go into the next round.”