Jack’s in the box to score more goals
JACK COLLISON is back in form and that must be good for the future of West Ham this season, writes DAVE EVANS. The knee injury he suffered at Wigan Athletic last term spoiled what was otherwise a superb breakthrough season for the 21-year-old Welsh intern
JACK COLLISON is back in form and that must be good for the future of West Ham this season, writes DAVE EVANS.
The knee injury he suffered at Wigan Athletic last term spoiled what was otherwise a superb breakthrough season for the 21-year-old Welsh international midfielder.
And this term has been hampered by tragedy and niggly injuries as Collison looks to re-establish his place in the starting line-up.
Back in August, his father was killed in a road traffic accident while on the way to West Ham's match with Spurs, and while he played the next couple of games, it soon became clear that the youngster needed to get his head right and missed five matches as he coped with his grief and a recurrence of that knee injury.
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But now he is back, and after slowly improving in the previous couple of matches, he was firing on all cylinders on Saturday at Hull City, culminating in his first goal of the season in claret and blue.
"I've just made a run and Franco has managed to pick me out," said the modest youngster. "I knew what I was trying to do, but I was a little surprised when it went in.
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"It is something I'm trying to add to my game, I need to score more goals."
With the ball in the net, Collison turned to celebrate in the same way that Frank Lampard has in the past when paying homage to his deceased mother - it seems that the West Ham youngster had something similar on his mind.
Goals from midfield was one of the pre-season pledges from manager Gianfranco Zola and though it has not materialised yet, Collison is determined to play his part.
"Steve Clarke has been getting into me a bit about scoring, and hopefully I can get a few more now before the end of the season," he said.
"They have been telling me to get into the box more. I feel and the management feel that I need to be doing more for the team going forward and I've been working hard in training at trying to improve on that.
"Today was the start and hopefully I can score a few more goals in the future."
There certainly seemed a plan to get both Collison and Scott Parker into forward positions much more than usual and it appeared to work as the Welshman scored and Parker forced the sending off of Bernard Mendy and could have won a penalty after being upended by Anthony Gardner.
Collison though can't work out how the team could throw away a 2-0 lead for the second away game on the trot.
"It's a strange one," he laughed. "Obviously it is not for the want of trying, we are giving it our all out there.
"These things happen, but we are going to remain positive. We have a lot of big games between now and Christmas and we feel that we can pick up a lot of points."
Surrendering that two-goal lead was even more galling for the midfielder considering how well the team had played in that opening 20 minutes.
"We feel we've got good players and we feel we are doing the right things, but it is just a case of some mistakes creeping in," he explained.
"It is hard to put your finger on it, but we are going to keep playing, keep working hard and I'm sure the points are going to start coming, because we are playing some nice stuff."
Collison's lack of match fitness has been a problem in recent weeks, but he feels that he is getting back towards his best.
"I'm feeling I'm slowly getting there," he confirmed. "These niggles take a little time to get over, but at the moment I'm just trying to do my bit for the team."
Last season, the turning point of the campaign came at Portsmouth on Boxing Day when the Hammers, inspired by a storming Collison performance, hammered the home side 4-1.
And the midfielder is confident that another big win like that one is just around the corner for West Ham.
"I think it is coming," he insisted. "We've got a lot of very good players who can score goals, but it is just a matter of stopping the other team scoring now."
Collison has now played 36 games in claret and blue, but his maturity both on and off the field hints at someone much more experienced.
He summed up the situation facing West Ham perfectly: "We are disappointed to be down there because we feel we have good players, but it is not a case of saying things now, it is a case of doing things on the pitch," he said.
"We have got to improve, we know we've got to pick up more points, but we are willing to put the work in, stick together and come Christmas we hope to be further up the table."
Collison has come through a lot both on and off the field this season. But it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel for him now and that could mean the same for West Ham.