Hines steps into Freddie's boots!

ZAVON HINES latched on to the clever through ball and with just the keeper to beat, he deftly nutmegged him and wheeled away to celebrate his first goal in international football, WRITES DAVE EVANS. The confident strike merely illustrated just how much th

ZAVON HINES latched on to the clever through ball and with just the keeper to beat, he deftly nutmegged him and wheeled away to celebrate his first goal in international football, WRITES DAVE EVANS.

The confident strike merely illustrated just how much the young West Ham forward has learned over the four weeks since his first home Premier League start against mighty Liverpool.

Then, the 20-year-old speedster was clean through with just Pepe Reina to beat, but his nerve failed him and his shot rattled against the Liverpool post.

But against Macedonia at the Ricoh Arena last Friday night, there were no such nerves as he collected Jack Wilshire's pass and finished with aplomb.


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Hines has been the find of the season for the Hammers. Just as Freddie Sears burst on to the scene the season before last, the striker seems to have all but replaced Sears, both for club and now for country.

Sears' initial impact on the West Ham side, which saw him score a dramatic winner on his debut against Blackburn Rovers, has been tempered by the fact that he hasn't scored since.

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He was sent out on loan to Crystal Palace at the beginning of the season, but bad luck seemingly continues to plague him, with first a perfectly good goal being ruled out when it bounced out of the net and back into play, and then injury hitting the 19-year-old Romford boy, who last played for the Eagles on the day Hines was turning out against Liverpool.

That injury to Sears enabled Hines to earn a call-up for the England under-21s in his place, and he took the opportunity with both hands.

After coming on as a second half substitute, he linked superbly with Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll - a West Ham target in the summer - to help England to a 6-3 victory.

In the build-up to the game, Hines had been enjoying every minute of it: "It's been very good to be honest. It's different from club football, so a different experience for me," he said.

Hines linked up with fellow Hammers James Tomkins and Junior Stanislas with the West Ham defender playing the full 90 minutes, while the winger was an unused sub.

The pair certainly helped him when he first arrived at the England camp though. "Junior and James are here so I settled in quite well with all the other lads too," said the reserved youngster.

"Training was very good, we've been very sharp, but I'm not surprised to be honest because most of the boys play for Premier League clubs and know what they are doing."

They looked even sharper in the match itself, though the defence certainly had their tough moments as the unfancied Macedonians levelled the scores at 2-2 and 3-3 before England pulled away.

Much of that was down to Hines. First he made it 4-3, and was so close to adding to that a few minutes later when Carroll played him in, only for Hines to slip as he went to shoot, and then see a second effort blocked.

He continued to link well with Carroll and it was the Newcastle man who crossed late on for Hines to tap in his second and complete the scoring.

It was a dream first appearance for the youngster and promises so much more, both for club and country.

But despite featuring in that game, Hines could still choose to play senior international football for Jamaica, the country of his birth.

He was called up to the full Jamaican squad back in February, but was not used, though it seems he is content to keep his options open for the time being.

"I moved to England when I was seven years old, my Dad was living there and I went to live with him," revealed Hines. "I was born in Jamaica, and Jamaica is in my heart, but right now I just want to concentrate on playing for England."

And for West Ham too. You only have to look at the way Sears' career has hit the buffers to see that fortunes come and go so easily in Premier League football.

The more he plays, the more aware opposition defenders will become of his talents and work out a way to deal with him. That is what happened to Sears and he has been forced to take a step back in order to build himself up again.

How Hines copes with the pressure remains to be seen, but so far this season, he has rarely put a foot wrong.

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