Could Collison be the answer to West Ham’s midfield problems?

Welsh midfielder could make an impact against champions Chelsea

Obviously there is never a good time to get injured, but when Jack Collison hurt his knee playing for Wales in March last year, the timing was particularly cruel.

The midfielder had begun to find the kind of form which two years earlier saw him earn a five-year contract after making just nine first team appearances.

A real box-to-box midfielder, who was versatile and comfortable on the ball, Collison looked to have fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap he suffered at Wigan the previous season, becoming a key member of the team.

“If you have passion and if you have belief you can be successful and I think Jack Collison is an example of all of that,” manager at the time Gianfranco Zola said. “Jack is unbelievable; he’s getting better and better.”

Spoken by someone with the career accomplishments of Zola tells you how good a prospect Collison is, which is why the knee ligament injury he picked up playing for Wales against Sweden was such a blow for him as well as West Ham.

It has been a long and an obviously frustrating time for a 22-year-old with so much energy and talent and although he has only played 90 minutes for the reserve team, Collison believes he could finally be ready for first team football.

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“I feel really good. I’ve only played a couple of reserve games, but I’ve been training for a long while now with the team, and it would be nice before the end of the season to have an opportunity to help the team out,” he said.

“I need to get minutes under my belt. I want to play as long as I can and hopefully after that the manager will think I am ready to step up.

“The knee has been good, so I feel good and I’m ready and raring to go.”

Three weeks ago you would have given the Welshman little chance of breaking into the first team with Thomas Hitzlsperger and Mark Noble playing so well, while Scott Parker continued to be the Hammers’ finest player.

However all three have suffered a drop in performance and with Parker possibly missing from this weekend’s game against Chelsea with an Achilles injury, could Collison force himself into the first team? The Welshman is eternally positive, but has received little information by boss Avram Grant about his chances.

“He hasn’t really given me any indications about whether he will need me or not, but for me I am just going to get my head down, try and train and play for the reserves as much as I can and then see what happens,” he said.

“Obviously it is a massive game for us. It is a London derby, I know the boys are really up for it and we have done all right there in the last couple of years. We’ve got to go there looking to win.”

A game against the champions is unlikely to provide much-needed points as the Hammers attempt to avoid the drop, but picking Collison and letting him show how talented he is would provide the boost West Ham fans and players need with just five games remaining.

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