Colli flowers into star of the show

HE HAS played just 21 games in claret and blue, but already young Jack Collison has established himself as an essential part of the West Ham line-up, writes DAVE EVANS. The likes of Scott Parker, Matty Upson and Rob Green are experienced players expected to perform at the h

HE HAS played just 21 games in claret and blue, but already young Jack Collison has established himself as an essential part of the West Ham line-up, writes DAVE EVANS.

The likes of Scott Parker, Matty Upson and Rob Green are experienced players expected to perform at the highest level week in week out, but for the 20-year-old Welsh international, this season was supposed to be one of learning his trade and making the occasional appearance.

But such has been the standard of his performances so far, he already has the press and the fans raving about the tall, stylish midfielder.

Another fan of Collison is his manager Gianfranco Zola, who was delighted to see him score the winner against Manchester City on Sunday.


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"He's unbelievable, getting better and better," exclaimed the West Ham boss. "He is only 20 and he's playing almost every week and still getting better. He's got a good attitude and he's only going to get better."

While big stars such as Craig Bellamy and Robinho struggled to get a foothold in the game, Collison continually marauded into the box, having one first-half shot well saved by Shay Given and then almost getting on the end of a move he had started after the break.

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But it was his goal that put those expensive players in the shade, as he showed superb technique to dink the ball over Given's head with a controlled lob and win the game for West Ham.

Passion

"That's the beauty of football," said Zola. "Sometimes if you work hard, have passion and belief then you can be successful and Jack Collison has all of that.

"I think if I put Collison up front or right at the back, I'm sure that he will give a good game for the team."

For the player himself, he seems to be taking the pressure and the adulation completely in his stride.

"It was my third goal so I'm delighted with that, not just for myself but for the team," said the modest midfielder, who has four international caps to his name.

"We felt we had to put a few things right from Wednesday night. We felt we let not just ourselves down, but we had a lot of travelling fans so it was disappointing for them as well. We felt we had to put things right against Manchester City and I think we put out a good performance and obviously took the three points."

Overshadowed

Naturally, Collison is still learning his trade in the team, but such has been the learning curve alongside players like Scott Parker, he has probably overshadowed fellow youngster Mark Noble with his displays this term.

For that, Collison gives a lot of credit to his midfield partner Parker, who signed a new deal last month.

"I think Scott Parker has signed now and that's great news for me because I think he's a real player to learn off," said the amicable, down-to-earth youngster.

"I think it shows the way the club wants to be moving.

"Everybody wants to be moving forward and obviously you want to keep your key players. Especially for me as a young player coming through, it's great to have experienced pros who have played at the top and we can just learn off them."

Collison is certainly learning and fast and just think, he is not even playing in his preferred position in the centre of the West Ham midfield at the moment.

Bellamy �14million, Robinho �32.5million - Jack Collison, priceless!

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