Jack’s a part of the precious diamond

JUST 21-YEARS-OLD, Jack Collison has already got the key to the door of the West Ham midfield, writes DAVE EVANS. Last season s success at Upton Park was built on the formidable midfield diamond of Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Valon Behrami and Collison hims

JUST 21-YEARS-OLD, Jack Collison has already got the key to the door of the West Ham midfield, writes DAVE EVANS.

Last season's success at Upton Park was built on the formidable midfield diamond of Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Valon Behrami and Collison himself, and manager Gianfranco Zola was delighted when the fitness and availability finally put them back together on Sunday against Arsenal for the first time since last March.

It hasn't been an easy ride for Collison this season. First his father was tragically killed in a road accident on his way to the Tottenham game back in August; then his emotions got the better of him in the aftermath of the troubles against Millwall in the Carling Cup.

Next he suffered a recurrence of the knee injury that struck at Wigan Athletic last season, and only now, after two months out of the side, is he beginning to return to anything like full fitness.


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"It's only my second game back, and I'm still feeling a bit off the pace, but I dug in and tried to do my bit for the team," said the Watford-born midfielder, who has already made 32 appearances in claret and blue since he made his debut against the Gunners at the Emirates in January 2008.

"I was just trying to find my lungs after 10 minutes, but you expect that against Arsenal, who play at a really high tempo.

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"We dug in, worked as a team, and I think that could be a massive point for us and a real turnaround for the season."

Collison certainly tried to get forward as much as he could against the Gunners. One darting run in particular saw him pick out Zavon Hines with a clever pass that led to a snapshot from Cole, while the Welshman even had his own effort close to the end which flew into the stand behind the goal.

The midfielder was delighted with the way West Ham responded in the second half, though he also felt that they didn't deserve to find themselves two goals behind.

"It was a really good comeback, but we were a little bit disappointed at half time to be 2-0 down," he insisted. "We felt that we were more than in the game and we looked around at each other and had a real belief that we could get back in the game, and fortunately we did."

He continued: "The manager had something to say at half time, but we were all being very harsh on ourselves as well. At the end of the day, it's about the players out on the pitch.

"The manager just told us what he expects of us and we just wanted to do it for him and the fans."

They certainly did that, with Collison playing the whole 90 minutes to bolster his match fitness.

Parker will be missing from the midfield diamond at Sunderland on Saturday, but Collison feels that West Ham may well have turned the corner.

"For the first time in a few weeks we've had a good feeling after the game and that's what we need to kick-start our season," he said. "We've got a few really winnable games coming up and it's up to us to pick up points in the next few weeks."

That begins at Sunderland this Saturday and Collison is determined for the team to kick-on from the Arsenal draw.

"We know as a team we just haven't been playing at a standard where we want to be in the last few weeks," he admitted.

"We've been working very hard in training, we're all together and it's up to us to start putting in more performances like that and pick up some more points because we're still in a sticky situation.

"But we're all together, we've got a good feeling now and we're going to look to push on.

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