Handy Hines is 90-minute man
ZAVON HINES has been in and around the first team squad for over a year now, but after 10 appearances for Coventry City and West Ham - scoring three goals - he finally played his first-ever competitive 90 minutes on Saturday, writes DAVE EVANS. And it was
ZAVON HINES has been in and around the first team squad for over a year now, but after 10 appearances for Coventry City and West Ham - scoring three goals - he finally played his first-ever competitive 90 minutes on Saturday, writes DAVE EVANS.
And it was quite a performance. West Ham may have lost, but Hines and new signing Alessandro Diamanti took the plaudits, with excellent displays that could and should have given the Hammers a share of the spoils.
The 20-year-old has had to wait patiently on the sidelines to get his chance, but he was delighted to finally get the opportunity to play 90 minutes.
"I was very excited to play, but in the end I'm a bit disappointed with the result," said the livewire striker who caused the Wigan defence plenty of problems with his pace and dribbling skills.
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"They didn't tell me I was starting until Saturday morning at the team hotel, but I did have a slight inkling yesterday from the team shape in training.
"I wasn't banking on it, so I just tried to keep my options open in case I was disappointed."
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He wasn't, and nor were the West Ham supporters who watched Hines give a performance without nerves, and one that could have reaped dividends in the opening six minutes.
It was then that Hines seemed to be through on goal, only to be brought down by Maynor Figueroa right in front of the linesman and the referee.
"There was a little ricochet from our player and it came to me," explained Hines. "I found myself through and I got clipped from behind and I went down, but the referee didn't give anything.
"I was through on goal so there was no need for me to go down and look for a penalty. I just don't understand the decision."
The setback did not seem to affect the Jamaican-born youngster as he then charged down a Chris Kirkland clearance, only to see it cannon wide of the post, while he was constantly battered by the physical Wigan defence, though that was something he was prepared for.
"We talked about it a lot on the morning of the match, so I kind of expected it really," he said. "That is why I didn't react with a bit of verbal, this time I was ready for them, so I tried to keep cool. They were big, but to be honest it is not really about your size if you are a good player."
Of course, Hines has already overcome the pressure of scoring his first goal in competitive football. He netted while on loan at Coventry City, and also grabbed goals in last season's Carling Cup tie with Macclesfield and in this season's battle with Millwall.
Now, the striker is looking to establish himself in the first team. "I think I've felt part of the first team squad since the start of the season," he confirmed.
"I wasn't too sure about my situation at the start of the season, but now I've made my first start I'm really hoping to get more of them."
Manager Gianfranco Zola was certainly pleased with the youngster: "He did very well. The boy was alive, he played a very good match and I was really pleased," he said.
The boss had private words of encouragement for Hines too as the youngster revealed.
"He said well done to me, and that I had done really well," said Hines. "I just want to stay in and around the team now. I can't do anything about the players that the club have signed, I can only do what I can do on the pitch, so I have to concentrate on myself."
The problems that young Freddie Sears has had since he scored a goal on his debut are there for all to see.
On Saturday, he missed a penalty in a 4-0 home defeat for Crystal Palace against Scunthorpe, while this weekend he will be looking for better luck against Derby County.
For Hines, it is the prospect of a clash against Premier League giants Liverpool, and he is determined not to let things go to his head.
"I can't wait for that game, but obviously I don't know if I am starting or on the bench, so I will just have to concentrate really hard in training all week and hope for the best," he said.
Whether he is on the bench or in the starting line-up, it seems that West Ham have turned another young pros-pect into a player who can make his mark in one of the toughest leagues in the world.