Collison shines as Dixon shows fitness

JACK COLLISON and Danny Gabbidon both enhanced their chances of a recall to the first team picture with a friendly work-out against French outfit Valenciennes on Friday. Collison has been missing since the trip to Blackburn Rovers back in August with a re

JACK COLLISON and Danny Gabbidon both enhanced their chances of a recall to the first team picture with a friendly work-out against French outfit Valenciennes on Friday.

Collison has been missing since the trip to Blackburn Rovers back in August with a recurrence of the knee injury he suffered at Wigan Athletic last season, but after consulting a specialist in Belgium he was given the all-clear to resume full training.

The 21-year-old looked sharp in Friday's behind-closed-doors frie-ndly and scored West Ham's goal in a 2-1 defeat after deftly controlling Julien Faubert's cross and sweeping the ball into the net.

Collison, who has also been attempting to cope with the loss of his father recently in a road traffic accident, should be fit to travel to Stoke on Saturday and could even start the game in the absence of the suspended Scott Parker.


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Gabbidon, meanwhile, may be a week away from full fitness after a tough workout against the French side. The Welsh international has not featured since the 3-2 home defeat by Liverpool, where he put in a fine performance after replacing Matty Upson early on.

Valon Behrami also played the first half as he continues to improve his match fitness, while Luis Jimenez - sporting a bleached-blond hairdo - and Alessandro Diamanti, also played a part as manager Gianfranco Zola put his non-international players through their paces.

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The other interesting inclusion towards the end of the match was striker Terry Dixon.

The former Spurs forward, who was almost forced to give up the game after a serious knee injury, played his first ever game in claret and blue last Tuesday when he clocked up 45 minutes in a friendly at Ipswich Town.

His rehabilitation continues, but he was able to come on as a late substitute against Valenciennes where he made an immediate impact.

The youngster, who is not 20 until January, immediately showed his quality with some excellent control and a deft pass out to the wing, while he then almost combined with Jimenez for a West Ham equaliser.

Right at the death, a surging run from Swiss full back Fabio Daprela put Dixon in, and he tested the French keeper with a low shot.

It was a promising cameo from the striker, who was included in two full Republic of Ireland squads before his was 18, and though he is not considered fit enough to join up with the first team squad, the Wayne Rooney lookalike is being lined-up for a competitive reserve team match in the near future.

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