West Ham United were well represented by Jordan Spence in Wednesday night's
Jordan Spence skippered England to an impressive victory in the opening
match of their bid to qualify for the 2009 UEFA European Under-19
The West Ham United central defender, wearing the No5 shirt, was part of a
resolute back-line at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium that provided a solid
base for the Young Lions to score two unanswered goals - five minutes from
the end of each half - to see off Bosnia-Herzegovina. Danny Rose headed a
crucial first before Nile Ranger nodded in the second to confirm the
Spence, who has captained his country at every youth level, was imperious
throughout and England will have full confidence of claiming success in
their next two qualifiers in a Group 6 mini-tournament they are hosting in
Yorkshire. Brian Eastick's men take on Slovakia this Friday in Bradford
before finishing their campaign against Scotland in Sheffield on Monday
The eight-nation finals are due to be held in Ukraine between 21 July and 2
August. As well as the hosts, Serbia, France and Spain have already
qualified. James Tomkins and Freddie Sears featured for England in the 2008
UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals last summer, when club-mate Savio
was voted player of the tournament for the champions Germany.
England: Jason Steele, Kieran Trippier, Joe Mattock, Matthew James, Jordan
Spence (c), Martin Kelly, Andrew Tutte (Victor Moses 59), Daniel Drinkwater,
Nathan Delfouneso (Marytn Waghorn 89), Nile Ranger, Daniel Rose (Dean
Subs not used: Declan Rudd, Gavin Hoyte, Andros Townsend, Matthew Briggs
Duo get U21s call
James Tomkins and Mark Noble are in the England squad for the UEFA European
West Ham United pair James Tomkins and Mark Noble have been named in
England's squad for next month's UEFA European Under-21 Championship in
Noble, 22, has been a regular member of Stuart Pearce's squad since making
his debut as a late substitute in the goalless draw with Czech Republic
during the last UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals in the
Netherlands in June 2007.
The Canning Town-born midfielder scored twice as England bowed out at the
semi-final stage, losing 13-12 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out following a
1-1 draw with the host nation.
Noble scored his first international goal against Bulgaria in a 2-0 victory
in Sofia on 11 September 2007 followed by a brace against the Republic of
Ireland in Cork on 16 October.
Noble has now totalled 15 U21 caps for his country, scoring three goals.
Tomkins, who has featured for England at every age level up to U20, has yet
to be capped at U21 level but could now make his debut in the friendly
against Azerbaijan at MK Dons on Monday 8 June.
The 20-year-old was part of England's squad at last summer's UEFA European
Under-19 Championship tournament in Czech Republic.
Manager Pearce said he had no hesitation in picking the Essex-born defender,
who made 15 first-team appearances for West Ham during a successful 2008/09
"James Tomkins has come through the England youth ranks, had a good season
at West Ham and this tournament experience will be invaluable to him,"
Pearce told TheFA.com
Former Hammers defender Pearce's squad will take on Finland in their opening
Group B match in Halmstad on Monday 15 June.
The Young Lions will face Spain in Gothenburg on Thursday 18 June before
completing their group stage campaign by tackling Germany in Halmstad on
Monday 22 June.
Aston Villa duo Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner, Arsenal's Theo Walcott,
Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor and Manchester City defender Micah
Richards are all included in the 23-man party.
"We are very pleased with the overall balance of the squad," said Pearce.
"We have three or four players who are extremely versatile and can play in a
number of positions. We also have a young squad with the players such as
Fabrice Muamba, Lee Cattermole, Kieran Gibbs, Danny Welbeck and Jack Rodwell
all being available for the next campaign, so this experience will be vital
"They may be young, but they have all had good experience with their clubs
this season and we believe they are the finished articles at this level."
Group A contains hosts Sweden, Belarus, Italy and Serbia, with the final
being played in Malmo on Monday 29 June.
England U21 squad
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Joe Lewis (Peterborough United), Scott Loach
Martin Cranie (Portsmouth), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Michael Mancienne
(Chelsea), Nedum Onuoha (Manchester City), Micah Richards (Manchester City),
Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough), Steven Taylor (Newcastle United), James
Tomkins (West Ham United)
Lee Cattermole (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Driver (Hearts), Craig Gardner
(Aston Villa), Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough), James Milner (Aston Villa),
Fabrice Muamba (Bolton Wanderers), Mark Noble (West Ham United), Jack
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Frazier Campbell
(Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
Applause for Gabbidon
West Ham United's players welcomed Danny Gabbidon back to full training with
a standing ovation
Danny Gabbidon has revealed that his West Ham United team-mates welcomed him
back from his injury nightmare with a standing ovation. The Wales
international defender ended 18 months on the sidelines with a persistent,
complicated abdominal problem by returning to full training at Chadwell
Heath last Thursday. As an example of the superb team spirit at the club,
manager Gianfranco Zola and his squad marked the occasion by giving the
popular 29-year-old a hearty cheer that the player himself clearly
appreciated. "It was nice," said Gabbidon. "The manager got the lads to give
me a round of applause to welcome me back so basically it was just really
nice to be out there doing what I'm paid to do, really. "I've been a bit
embarrassed at times not being able to earn my wages. I've been doing a lot
of work in the gym but I wanted to be out there on the pitch earning my
money so it was nice to get back a week before the end of the season.
"Hopefully now I can get myself ready in the off-season and get back ready
to go for next season."
Gabbidon revealed that his lay-off, which saw the Cwmbran-born player
undergo back surgery in the middle of his painstaking rehabilitation
programme, had sometimes left him wondering if he would ever kick another
ball. After endless, lonely days and long evenings in the gym, that fear was
finally laid to rest last week. "It's been tough, probably the hardest
moment of my career. I've been injured for a long time and obviously you
have thoughts about if and when you are going to come back. "It's hard
watching the boys play week in, week out when you just want to be out there
playing but it was nice to get back training last week and I really enjoyed
it. It's been a long time coming and I've spent a lot of hours in the gym so
it was nice to get out training in the fresh air with the lads. I'd missed
Having come through three days of full training with West Ham without any
adverse reaction, Gabbidon was at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday to watch his
team-mates end their Barclays Premier League season with victory over
relegated Middlesbrough. Afterwards, he was delighted to join the squad for
the traditional end-of-season 'thanks' to fans on the pitch. It was back to
the hard work again this week, however, as Zola and the Hammers' medical
staff gave their blessing for Gabbidon to link-up with the senior Wales
squad, including club-mate Jack Collison, who are in training ahead of
Friday evening's friendly international against Estonia at Parc y Scarlets
The former Cardiff City man suggested he may even get a run out in Friday's
game, but insisted his long-term focus is on getting himself fully fit for
West Ham United ahead of the 2009/10 season. "I'm going away with the
national team to get some training with them and see how I feel there.
There's a friendly game at the end of the week so maybe I can get involved
in that, I'll see how I feel. "Obviously I'll have a couple of weeks to rest
then I'll have to get myself ready a week-or-two before we come back. That's
the plan and hopefully I can come back ready to go."
Neill in Australia squad
Lucas Neill has been named in Pim Verbeek's squad for three important FIFA
2010 World Cup qualifiers
Lucas Neill is in line to earn his 50th cap for Australia after being named
in Pim Verbeek's squad for the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifier
Round 4 Group 1 matches against Qatar, Bahrain and Japan in June. Socceroos
captain Neill, who has 48 caps, is almost certain to lead his country to
their second consecutive World Cup finals tournament. Dutchman Verbeek's
side need just a point from their three remaining fixtures to be assured of
a place in South Africa. Sydney-born Neill, 31, is one of eleven
English-based players in the 30-man squad, which also includes Hull City's
former West Ham forward Richard Garcia, who won the FA Youth Cup during his
time at the Boleyn Ground in 1998/99. Everton's Tim Cahill, Blackburn
Rovers' Vince Grella, Fulham's Mark Schwarzer and Galatasaray's former Leeds
United and Liverpool forward Harry Kewell are also all included. Australia,
who sit two points clear of Japan and six points above third-placed Bahrain
at the top of their group, have won four and drawn one of their five
qualifying matches without conceding a single goal. The Socceroos head for
Doha to take on Qatar on Saturday 6 June before returning home to take on
Bahrain in Sydney on Wednesday 10 June. Neill and his team-mates will
complete their qualification campaign with a home fixture against Japan in
Melbourne on Wednesday 17 June. Should Australia pick up the point they
need, it would take them to the World Cup finals for just the second time in
their history. At the 2006 finals, Australia beat Japan and drew with
Croatia to finish second in Group F.
Collison dismisses England talk
Jack Collison has rejected suggestions he could follow Rhys Williams in
declining to play for Wales having represented them at age-group level.
Collison, already capped four times in friendly games by Wales, is to put
the issue beyond doubt by facing Azerbaijan in Wales' 6 June World Cup
qualifier. "Next weekend I can put an end to all that speculation," said
Collison. "There's never been doubt in my mind, I've really enjoyed it and
been proud to play for my grandfather's country."
The highly rated West Ham midfielder, 20, is dual qualified as he was born
in Watford and his grandfather was born in the Blaenau Gwent area. Collison
can change nationality if he has not played a competitive senior Wales
international and is under 21. Earlier this month Middlesbrough centre-back
Williams, 20, chose to represent his Australian homeland, having previously
won eight Wales under-21 caps and a call into manager John Toshack's senior
squad. Collison, named West Ham's young player of the year at the weekend,
is set to face Estonia in Friday's friendly in Llanelli as he continues his
comeback from a serious knee injury. "There's such a big Welsh contingent at
West Ham, if I'd done something like change my mind [on playing for Wales],
I wouldn't have dared go in for training," said Collison. "It has been a
really enjoyable season for me, I almost went out on loan to Peterborough
but because of injuries in the squad, that did not happen. "Since then there
has been a change of manager and I have been given my chance in the first
team, and ended it winning the club's young player of the year award which
is a great honour. "I was 24 hours away from going to Peterborough, I was
due to travel there but the previous day Mark Noble picked up a training
injury and I was pulled out of the move. "It was very close, but it was not
meant to happen and I always feel that things like that happen for a reason.
"Peterborough had a really good season anyway, and got promotion, so they
didn't need me anyway! "The new manager [Gianfranco Zola] arrived and gave
me my chance, it has been a really big boost for me to play in the Premier
League for most of the season, apart from the spell when I have been out
injured. "He gave me the opportunity and the confidence to go out and play
to my best, and I am really enjoying it. "My game is all about high energy
and getting around midfield, but above all the manager wants us to play with
a smile on our faces and that is always his philosophy."
Hammers off to Austria
Filed: Wednesday, 27th May 2009
By: Staff Writer
West Ham United are set to visit Austria in preparation for the forthcoming
2009/10 Premier League season. The Hammers will stay in Bad Radkersburg
between July 13th-24th - just as they did two years ago when Alan Pardew was
manager. Although details of possible fixtures are yet to be announced the
Hammers will be in Austria at the same time as Bolton, Arsenal, Stoke City,
Werder Bremen, FK Jablonec and Hertha BSC - all of whom are staying in
various other locations throughout the country.
Gianfranco Zola will be hoping for better luck than his predecessor who saw
his side defeated by Czech outfit Sigma (1-0) and Italian Serie A side Lazio
(2-0) during the 2007 tour.
Current pre-season dates
Grays Athletic (a): July 12th
Austrian Tour: July 13th-24th
Kingstonian (a): July 31st
Asia Cup (Beijing): First week of August
Sweden awaits Hammers duo
Filed: Wednesday, 27th May 2009
By: Staff Writer
James Tomkins has been called up for the England under-21 squad to play in
this summer's European Championships. The Basildon-born defender has emerged
as one of the country's brightest young prospects after a solid season for
the Hammers at centre-half, and was rewarded today with a first under-21 nod
from Stuart Pearce. 20-year-old Tomkins, who recently put pen to paper on a
new three-and-a-half year contract will be joined in the 23-man squad by
team mate Mark Noble, a veteran in comparison having already collected 15
England under-21 caps. The Championships take place in Seweden and England
start with a game against Finland on June 15th before facing Spain and
Germany in Group B. Prior to the tournament Pearce's charges face Azerbaijan
in a friendly at Milton Keynes on June 8th.
England under-21 European Championship squad
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Joe Lewis (Peterborough United), Scott Loach
(Watford); Martin Cranie (Portsmouth), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Michael
Mancienne (Chelsea), Nedum Onuoha (Manchester City), Micah Richards
(Manchester City), Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough), Steven Taylor (Newcastle
United), James Tomkins (West Ham United); Lee Cattermole (Wigan Athletic),
Andrew Driver (Hearts), Craig Gardner (Aston Villa), Adam Johnson
(Middlesbrough), James Milner (Aston Villa), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton
Wanderers), Mark Noble (West Ham United), Jack Rodwell (Everton); Theo
Walcott (Arsenal) Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Frazier Campbell
(Tottenham Hotspur - on Loan), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).
Gabbidon joins Wales camp
Defender back from long lay-off
By Carla Hilton Last updated: 27th May 2009
Danny Gabbidon will join the Wales training camp 18 months after he last
played a match. The 29-year-old West Ham defender was told he may never play
again after suffering a serious stomach injury. Against the odds, though,
Gabbidon is finally recovering after a lengthy stint on the sidelines and
will join Wales in training this week.
Given the all-clear by West Ham, Gabbidon joins Wales in training but will
not figure in the match against Estonia at Llanelli on Friday. Delighted
with his return to action, the Hammers defender said: "I never once felt
that I would not play again. They tell me that was the rumour, but I have
never heard it. "I've been too busy trying to get myself fit to worry about
things like that. "I'm fit now," he added. "I'm back in full training with
my club and the treatment for my injury has finished. "I aim to be back in
contention at the beginning of next season. It has been a long time out but
I will be back raring to go come August."
That Was The Season That Was - Part 2
Filed: Wednesday, 27th May 2009
By: Gordon Thrower
Part two of our look at the 2008/09 season covers November 2008 to January
2009 - with a wee bit of February thrown in for free to cover an
"interesting" transfer window....
The recent run of defeats ends with a 1-1 draw away at Boro', thanks largely
to a superb first-half performance. Hayden Mullins is on the scoresheet.
It's all change at board level as Mike Lee and Gumundur Oddson resign their
Barack Obama takes time out from singing "Bubbles" and perusing his
programme collection to win the US Presidential Election. Sadly his first
executive order to launch a nuclear strike on Sheffield is cancelled when he
is told that McCabe lives in Brussels and the fall-out might affect
attendances at Francois Van Der Elst's bar.
Hammers dominate the home match against Everton until three late goals give
Everton a flattering and somewhat undeserved win. The highlight of the match
is Jack Collison's fine strike.
James Collins is arrested outside a London nightclub in what turns out to
have been a case of mistaken identity. It must have been some other 6ft+
ginger bloke then.
Hammers keep a first clean sheet in 25 matches as Maltese Hammer jets over
to add yet another 0-0 draw to his burgeoning collection. Portsmouth are the
visitors for this historic event.
Man of the match Matthew Upson is on the scoresheet as England beat Germany
2-1 in a friendly in Berlin.
The team notches its first win since September with a less than convincing
1-0 win at the Stadium of Light courtesy of Valon Behrami's 20th minute
Any lingering thoughts that Sheffield United's campaign against the club had
anything to do with "fairness" in football are dispelled as the hypocrites
obtain a court injunction preventing any appeal to CAS against Griffiths'
The Blades bring football further into disrepute when Chris Morgan assaults
Barnsley striker Iain Hume. Morgan is described by Blades' boss Blackwell as
"a first class lad" and assistant boss Ellis claims that people are "making
too much" of the incident. How daft of the world of football to make "so
much" of a little knock that left the player requiring emergency surgery for
a fractured skull necessitating a further return to hospital with severe
Hammers nick a point up at Anfield with a dogged performance in a 0-0 draw.
The official Liverpool programme suggests that Zola will be out if he
doesn't get a result, which is a pretty disgraceful thing for an official
programme to say.
The club finally gets new shirt sponsors in the form of betting firm Spobet.
Regulations regarding replica kits for youngsters mean that kids' shirts
cannot carry the new logo and junior sizes bear the Bobby Moore Fund logo,
prompting mass dieting as thousands of fans struggle to get their beer
bellies into shirts marked "Large Boys".
Hammers go down 2-0 at home to Spurs who, despite a poor home display,
require two shocking refereeing decisions and a goal from a late breakaway
to take the points.
Kieron Dyer surfaces again several months after the pre-season announcement
that he'd be out for six weeks, returning to action in a behind closed doors
match at Chadwell Heath.
Hammers pick up a point at Stamford Bridge where Bellamy's strike is
sufficient to earn a 1-1 draw. Calum Davenport in for the injured James
Collins has a fine game and Cole spurns a marvellous chance to take all
three points at the death.
Forensic accountants collapse laughing as full details of Sheffield United's
claim against the club are examined. The full details remain under wraps,
though claims for moat cleaning and duck islands cannot be ruled out.
Former chairman Eggert Magnusson joins the lengthening queue at the civil
courts in his quest to collect a payout he claims is due following his
departure from the club the previous year.
Hammers play Villa off the park only to rue spurned chances as Villa nick
all three points at the Boleyn with a freak deflection at the death. The
result leaves the side one spot above the relegation zone going into the
Nigel Quashie's loan as Birmingham is extended as the club admits they'd
forgotten all about him anyway.
Rumours start to fly about that Spurs have made approaches towards Craig
Bellamy. Strangely, for a club that had earlier complained bitterly about
illegal approaches from Man Utd and Liverpool, Spurs don't seem too fussed
about seeking permission before having talks with the striker.
The Bellamy rumours, together with further tales of BG's debts, fuel
speculation that a "fire sale" of players might take place and fears that
the forthcoming window might see the departure of Green, Upson and Bellamy
seem quite real.
Things brighten up on Boxing Day as a splendid second half at Fratton Park
sees us run out 4-1 winners over Pompey. Defoe misses a penalty as Bellamy
(2) Cole and Collison all net.
Things get even funnier two days later as Hammers, without the suspended
Bellamy, pick up another three points against an awful Stoke City, coming
from behind to win 2-1 with goals from Cole and a somewhat fortunate
deflection from Tristan. The game is notable for the girly slap delivered by
Ricardo Fuller on team-mate Andy Griffin just after the equaliser, the
inevitable sending off being described as "camp" rather than "violent"
conduct in the ref's report. The six points in two games send the club from
the fringe of the relegation zone to 10th spot.
The year ends with the return of James Tomkins from a loan spell at Derby
County, suggesting that the youngster might be required for first-team duty
sooner rather than later.
Hammers comfortably deal with an Ian Hume-less Barnsley with a 3-0 victory
in the third round of the Cup. Ilunga, Noble (pen) and Cole score as the
conspiracy theorists muse upon the absence of Upson. The reward is a trip to
Parker is next to be linked with a departure as the window opens. Man City
are the reported suitors, though the club later issues a "not for sale"
warning. Villa deny interest in Upson. Birmingham return to the club's
bargain aisle to snap up Lee Bowyer on loan to go with Nigel Quashie,
whoever he is.
Transfer speculation hots up as it transpires that Calum Davenport has had a
contretemps with Zola, who ruthlessly dropped the defender to the bench
despite some good performances. Bolton are rumoured to be interested.
Hull are sniffing around Luis Boa-Morte who has been a target of the boo
boys at the Boleyn in recent weeks. However the speculation comes to nothing
amidst rumours that LBM's wage demands are beyond the Tigers.
Matthew Etherington departs for Stoke, the transfer deal presumably
including some sort of settlement of the gambling debts that the club picked
up on the winger's behalf. Ricardo Fuller is not reported to be quaking in
Hammers venture north to Newcastle to take a point in an entertaining 2-2
draw. Fine goals from Bellamy and Cole either side of the interval earn the
point. Sir Ranulph Feinnes declines an invitation to the match on the
grounds that the climb to the away section at SJP is "far too difficult".
The veteran explorer later becomes the first British OAP to conquer Everest.
Transfer speculation gets silly as Man City striker Bojinov is reported in
the Manchester Evening News as having spoken with the club without
permission. The Club's new "get tough policy" with regard to false reporting
results in a threat of legal action and the paper is forced to print a full
retraction and apology. Kevin McCabe takes note and mercifully remains
silent for a while.
Spurs put in another bid for Bellamy, testing CEO Scott Duxbury's assertion
that the club would not be sending its best players to White Hart Lane. It's
not that much of a test admittedly, a swap deal involving Darren Bent being
an offer the club finds easy to refuse. Reports that Bellamy has stormed out
of training at being denied a move to Spurs prove to be somewhat
It still seems likely, however, that Bellamy's stay at the Boleyn is at an
end as he is left out of the side to play Fulham. Hammers win an
entertaining match 3-1 with goals from DiMichele, Noble (pen) and Cole
countering a trademark freak long distance effort from former Hammer Paul
Konchesky. Ref Dowd bizarrely fails to issue a red card to Konchesky who
brings down Cole when clear through on goal. It is a reluctance that Dowd is
to lose to our cost later in the season at Everton.
Bellamy finally leaves for Middle Eastlands for a reputed fee of between
£12-14m. Out of favour Julien Faubert announces that he is looking to leave
for Lyon. Or anywhere.
Someone called Nigel Quashie turns up at the front door at Green Street
claiming to be a player. He brandishes a note from Birmingham City
containing feeding instructions. Zola scribbles out the address on the
envelope and Quashie disappears off towards Molineaux where he spends the
rest of the season on loan.
Back on the pitch Hammers see off Hartlepool 2-0 with first half goals from
Behrami and Noble (pen). The tie results in some genuinely valuable
contributions to the site's forum from Hartlepool fans – in particular from
a gentleman calling himself Mr Creosote (possibly not his real name) and we
receive numerous tales of friendly and warm welcomes from the locals. Those
of us who regularly use the town as a base for our north east excursions are
not surprised. A home tie against Boro' is the reward.
The transfer window rumour mill moves into overdrive as Nani confirms
negotiations to bring 19 year-old Savio Nsereko to the club from Italian
side Brescia. Hayden Mullins won't be about to greet the youngster though –
he's off to Pompey in another undisclosed fee deal worth a reported £2m.
Strangely when my other half asks how much I've spent on following the
Hammers the answer "the figure must remain undisclosed" does not receive the
same acceptance it does elsewhere in the football world.
Meanwhile things start to get really daft as "Sky Sports reveals" that
Juventus are interested in signing Carlton Cole, something that appears to
have come as some surprise to "The Old Lady."
Sheffield United interfere in another club's selection policy for a third
time as Matthew Spring's transfer to Charlton breaks the rules on third
party influence.We're still waiting for details of the fine that the
authorities are, obviously, still considering.
Savio arrives and, on the pitch, Hammers produce some exhilarating stuff as
Hull are dispatched 2-0 with goals from DiMichele and Cole. Tigers 'keeper
Duke saves a penalty and a few dozen other shots for good measure to give
the score a very flattering look from Hull's point of view.
The Hull match also marks the return of stadium announcer Jeremy Nicholas
following less than succesful stints by a number of replacement announcers.
Rumours that Jeremy had been rested in case Sheffield United thought he was
ineligible are probably wide of the mark and I really should stop
Czech international Radoslav "Theo" Kovac arrives on loan to give the women
something to look at while the football is going on. (Yes, cheap I know but
you don't have to put up with the women in my part of the ground!)
The world of football giggles at the inventiveness of the wag who suggests a
loan move for Julien Faubert to Real Madrid. As the laughter dies down
someone says "by the way, where IS Julien". The answer comes as something of
Hammers come away from the New Library with a point from a 0-0 draw with
Arsenal. Savio makes his debut as sub and impresses with a couple of strong,
but legal, challenges, one of which sees Diaby carried off.
Calum Davenport disappears on loan to Sunderland, a move that gives the
Mackems three ex-Hammers in the back four and, as the window closes, the
Club exercises its option to make Ilunga's loan deal permanent, as thousands
ask "no, really, where IS Faubert".
And Kieron Dyer is injured………
CAPELLO MAY RUE COLLISON BLUNDER
Thursday May 28,2009
By John Wragg Have your say(0)
NEW West Ham star Jack Collison, ignored by England, wants to show Fabio
Capello what he has missed in Wales' emerging young team. Collison will play
for Wales in tomorrow's friendly against Estonia and then will commit
himself for life by making his competitive debut against Azerbaijan in the
World Cup qualifier a week on Saturday.
Collison, 20, is so highly rated that Gianfranco Zola is building West Ham's
team with him a central part of it – but amazingly England have never
offered him a chance.
He is Watford-born, but Collison will be getting his dad a Wales shirt to
wear. Collison senior has already had to switch from being a Chelsea fan to
the Hammers to watch his son and now he is going to have to locate Parcy
Scarlets, home of Llanelli rugby club, to watch Jack play tomorrow. "My
dad's a Chelsea fan but I think he's fully converted to West Ham," said
Collison. "Playing under someone like a Chelsea legend in Zola helps with
that. Everyone appreciates what Zola has brought to the game.
"My dad's coming up to the game on Friday so I'll sort him out with a Welsh
Manager John Toshack, disappointed with Wales' failure to make more impact
on their World Cup qualifying group, is now targeting the 2012 European
Qualifying for that begins next September and more youngsters from the Wales
Under-21 squad, Joe Allen, Sam Church and Andy King, have been brought in.
The U21s' qualifying for 2011 starts this September. Collison has four caps,
but all of them in friendlies, and Wales are risking England waking up late
and pinching him until he has got a competitive cap. Aaron Ramsey, Collison,
Dave Edwards and Joe Ledley – average age less than 21 – will form Wales'
new midfield with the international careers of Simon Davies, Jason Koumas
and Carl Fletcher fading. Wales jumped ahead of England to get Collison when
Under-21 coach Brian Flynn went to see him at West Ham.
"I'm not sure what happened with England," said Collison, who has a Welsh
grandfather and relations on his mother's side who played rugby for Wales.
"I was just concentrating on getting into the West Ham team and Brian Flynn
came down and offered me the opportunity to go and play with the Under-21s,"
said Collison, speaking at an event organised by the official sponsors of
the Welsh team, Nationwide Building Society. "I jumped at the chance. There
are 11 players in this squad who can still play in the Under-21s. We are
looking to do things at a senior level now. "I wasn't tempted to wait and
see if England did come in for me. I am very proud to play for Wales. If I
play against Azerbaijan, it will put an end to all the speculation." Wales
have already lost Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams, 20, who has opted to
play for the land of his birth, Australia, rather than that of his
grandfather. "I know Rhys well, and I wish him good luck," said Collison,
who has recovered from a dislocated kneecap. "There will be a lot of
competition for places with Wales, so it's going to be an interesting couple
of years. We will look to progress as individuals and as a team to take
Wales places. We want to bring the Under-21 team spirit with us into the
senior team. "It's exciting for me to be playing alongside Aaron Ramsey,
everyone knows what a talented player he is. "We formed a partnership in the
Under-21s and it will be nice to get the opportunity to go out there and
repeat it in the senior side. Both of us need to impress over the next two
Jack Collison looks to launch Wales career in Azerbaijan
Competitive debut will end fears of switch to England colours
West Ham midfielder credits manager Zola for development
Stuart James guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 27 May 2009 22.30 BST
With World Cup qualification already beyond Wales, a trip to Azerbaijan on
Saturday week might seem like a meaningless fixture but don't expect Jack
Collison to agree. The game in Baku should see the West Ham United
midfielder represent Wales in a competitive international for the first time
and, as a result, will bring an end to the fears that Collison could be
tempted to defect to England, the country of his birth.
Wales have just seen one of their promising youngsters switch allegiances,
with the Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams pledging his future to
Australia despite making 10 appearances for Brian Flynn's Under-21 side.
Under Fifa rules, Collison would be free to do the same, as the three senior
caps he has collected hitherto have all come in friendlies, but the
20-year-old, who qualifies for Wales through his grandfather, insists that
he has no intention of turning his back on his adopted country.
"The Azerbaijan game will put an end to the speculation," said Collison, who
joked that "the Welsh contingent" at Upton Park, which includes James
Collins and Danny Gabbidon, would never have forgiven him if he had opted
for England instead. "I haven't thought about it much but a lot of people
have brought it up. Hopefully I'll be selected and put an end to it. All my
mum's side are very proud that I chose to play for Wales and so am I, to be
How England came to allow Collison to slip through the net is something of a
mystery although it might prove to be a costly oversight. He broke through
at Upton Park at a time when Freddie Sears' progress was picked up by the
England youth set-up, yet it was not until Flynn turned up at West Ham's
training ground to offer Under-21 football with Wales that any international
interest surfaced. Does he regret not waiting to see if England would have
come calling? "No, not all. I was very proud to grab the opportunity to play
for Wales and I haven't looked back since."
That much has been obvious at West Ham where Collison's talent has
flourished under Gianfranco Zola. Having been on the verge of a loan move to
Peterborough earlier in the season, he went on to make 20 Premier League
appearances at Upton Park and finished the campaign picking up West Ham's
young player of the year award. The new manager has clearly been a huge
influence behind his emergence.
"Obviously playing under someone like Zola, anyone who loves football will
appreciate what he has brought to the game," acknowledged Collison, who was
speaking at an event organised by the official sponsor of the Wales team,
Nationwide. "It's a great opportunity for a young player like me to learn
from one of the best ever to play in the Premiership. He's so enthusiastic
and he gives you confidence and belief in your ability."
Collison's next target is to "cement a place in John Toshack's team" –
something that he will have a chance to do before the Azerbaijan fixture,
with Wales taking on Estonia in a friendly on Friday. Toshack has signalled
his intention to welcome in a new era by selecting a youthful squad and
Collison, who was a key figure in the Under-21 side who were unfortunate to
miss out on this summer's European Championship after a narrow defeat to
England in the play-offs, believes all the foundations are in place to build
a successful senior team for the future.
"There are a lot of young players I have played with and I know all about
their ability, and I'm hoping they're going to get the opportunity to show a
few other people what they're about," said Collison, whose partnership with
Aaron Ramsey in central midfield looks particularly promising. "We are all
going to look to progress as individuals and as a team and look to really
take Wales places in the future. We all want to work hard and, who knows, in
a few years' time we could have a very successful side here."
Noble: Hammers will be a force if club keeps top stars
27 May 2009
East London Advertiser
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Mark Noble insists West Ham will be "a force to be reckoned with" next
season if the club can keep hold of their top stars. The Hammers have made
steady progress under manager Gianfranco Zola this year and narrowly missed
out on European qualification in the final weeks of the campaign. Midfielder
Noble, 22, believes West Ham can challenge Everton and Aston Villa for a
top-six Premier League finish next season. But the homegrown Hammer has
warned that club must not allow their top players to move on this summer,
with defenders Matthew Upson and Lucas Neill facing uncertain futures at
Upton Park. England ace Upson, 30, has been linked with a £6m move to
Arsenal, while Hammers skipper Neill's current deal expires next month.
Noble said: "The season we've had, some of the football we've played has
been fantastic. We get on so well as a team - obviously on the field, but
off the field as well. We go out together, we do so much stuff together and
it would be a shame to lose any of that.
"But I'm pretty sure the club will do their best to keep our best players
and really crack on and get that European place next year. "I think we're
just a little bit away from Aston Villa and Everton now and when we've got
all our players fit, we'll be a force to be reckoned with."
West Ham secured a second successive top-half Premier League position this
season and improved on last year's 10th-place finish by ending the campaign
in ninth. But playmaker Noble, who will form a key part of Stuart Pearce's
side for next month's European Under-21 championships, reckons the progress
made at Upton Park this season is greater than the final league standings
suggest. "Although we've only finished ninth, some of the results we've had
have been fantastic and if we can just add little things to that, we can go
much further," Noble said. "With some of the young players we've got coming
through and the experience we've got - it's a great blend and we can push
Junior is working to be a top senior
27 May 2009
FOR MOST professional footballers once the season is finally over, thoughts
turn to flip flops, sun tan lotion and a cold beer on a far-off beach, but
for one West Ham player he just doesn't want the campaign to end, writes
DAVE EVANS. Junior Stanislas signed off the season with his second goal in
claret and blue, as well as an award for the youngster who has made the most
impact this season, and the 19-year-old just wanted the football to go on
through the summer. "It's disappointing for me that it is all coming to an
end because I've been involved and been doing all right, although some of my
starts are down to injuries to certain other players," he said. That is
partly true. Certainly, Jack Collison's knee injury allowed the south
Londoner an extended run in the starting line-up, but he also found himself
ahead of others who might have expected to be in front of him in the pecking
order. Stanislas came on as a substitute against West Brom at Upton Park for
his debut, replacing expensive disappointment Savio, and the young German
has hardly had a look-in since. Nine appearances and two goals show that
Stanislas has a big future at the club, and though some of his performances
have shown that he still has a lot to learn, few could have predicted that
he would have done so well. "I've just got to keep pushing on myself and
just keep pushing to keep my place in the team," said the ambitious
youngster. "I'll keep working hard over the summer and come back trying to
find my feet more, get more confident, get better and then keep playing next
It is surely no coincidence that the likes of Stanislas, Jack Collison and
James Tomkins have improved so much this season. Manager Gianfranco Zola
seems to have given them a huge amount of confidence to play their natural
game. Stanislas certainly knows the contribution his boss has made: "It has
been good for me because the manager just let's you go out and play your
football," explained the Wes t Ham Academy boy. "He doesn't put any pressure
on you. He just says 'Go out, enjoy the day and make sure you come in with a
That sort of confidence allows players like Stanislas to take pot shots, as
in the two he tried against Middlesbrough. His first deflected off Robert
Huth and cannoned against the post, while his second effort skidded across
the grass and through the hands of keeper Brad Jones before hitting the net.
"Unfortunately for him he's let it go, but it is fortunate for me that it's
gone in," explained Stanislas with a grin, a smile that was just as wide
when he picked up the Doris Bell trophy after the game, as the youngster who
has improved the most during this season. "Obviously, getting an award is
nice, but what's more important is to end the season with a win so the
players can go away on a bit of a high. Overall it's a good day."
If he continues to improve at this rate, then there could be many more good
days for the youngster, but for the moment he just wants to work hard and
improve his game.
"My goal for next season is just to cement my spot in the team and grow as a
player and just get better," he revealed. "I can definitely make more of an
impact next year. I've played nine games this season and hopefully if I do
well and have a good pre-season I can push on next year." The second season
is often the hardest for young players, but with the help of Zola, there is
no reason why Stanislas cannot go from strength to strength next season.
Jack owes award to his manager!
27 May 2009
JACK COLLISON collected the coveted Young Hammer of the Year award after
Sunday's win over Middlesbrough and immediately gave most of the credit for
his success to manager Gianfranco Zola. Under Alan Curbishley, the
20-year-old Welsh international seemed to lack confidence, but since the
arrival of the new boss, he has established himself in the first team to the
point where he has become an essential member of the side. "For me, a big
factor was the new manager coming in," explained Collison after helping his
team to a 2-1 victory, where he teed up Junior Stanislas for the winning
goal. "He gave me a lot of confidence and belief in my own abilities, to go
out and show what I'm about. "He gave me my chance and I'm doing my best to
repay the faith he's shown in me."
Collison's epiphany came at Fratton Park in December when he put in a
stunning performance, scoring one goal and making two others as West Ham
thumped Pompey 4-1, and from that point on, the midfielder was on course for
that Young Hammer award. At the beginning of the campaign, Collison seemed
nowhere near the first team squad, let alone the starting line-up, but it
was a situation that he was determined to rectify. "At the start of the
season it was about getting my head down and working hard," said Collison.
"There were times when I was a little bit frustrated not to be playing and
not being on the bench. "But I got my head down, worked hard and got an
opportunity and I haven't looked back since."
Despite his success this season and the trophy that came at the end of it,
Collison is determined to keep his feet on the ground. "I've only just come
into the team this season, so I've only played 20-odd games and the hard
work begins now," he said. "I haven't achieved anything, but an award like
this gives me great confidence to really work hard and keep progressing and
hopefully I can be a really big player for West Ham."
With more experienced midfielders likely to return to fitness for the start
of the new season, including Hammer of the Year Scott Parker, Collison faces
another big challenge to keep his place in the side, but he thinks the fight
for a start will be great for the team. "If you look at the midfielders
we've got here, we've got Scottie Parker to come back, we're going to have a
fully-fit Kieron Dyer, which in itself is going to be like signing a new
player," he said. "But, as I say, the competition for places is going to
help us progress as a team and I think we can really push for Europe next
year. "For me personally, I really like to play in the centre, but for the
manager, I'd play anywhere - I'd play in goal if he asked me! "I just love
being out there and playing football."
Let us hope that this exciting young talent never loses his enthusiasm for
the game, and who knows, he may be swapping the Young Hammer award for the
big one in the not too distant future.
Zola keen to keep stars
27 May 2009
GIANFRANCO ZOLA has achieved his goal of finishing higher than West Ham did
last season - his next is to persuade his top players that their future
still lies at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS. The Hammers boss saw his team
relegate sorry Middles-brough thanks to a 2-1 victory on Sunday, but despite
that, he was still met with questions about his more experienced players.
England centre half Matthew Upson has made no secret of the fact that he
wants to play European football at the highest level, and if, like Craig
Bellamy back in January, he asks to leave, then West Ham are unlikely to
stand in his way. The 30-year-old defender has made 76 appearances in claret
and blue since his £6million move from Birmingham City in January 2007,
putting in some outstanding performances this season in particular. Zola,
however, attempted to pour cold water on the possibility of a move for the
14-cap international. "I don't know anything about that," insisted the
manager. "It looks to me that Matthew is very happy here and wants to stay,
so it shouldn't be an issue for us."
If Upson does want to leave, then it would certainly boost the West Ham
coffers, but it is a very different issue with skipper Lucas Neill, whose
contract runs out in the summer. The 31-year-old Aussie is said to be asking
for a one-year deal to take him up to the World Cup in South Africa, where
he will play his last games for his national team, before quitting England
and forming his own club down under. Zola is a big fan of the experienced
defender, but wages may be the stumbling block between Neill and the club as
they continue to negotiate. The ever-optimistic Italian though, is confident
that a deal will be struck sooner rather than later, when he was asked if
the club captain had played his last game for the Hammers. "No, I don't
think so," he said. "I think in the next few days there will be meetings and
something positive will happen."
Zola has constructed a team with a large sprinkling of youngsters, but he
knows just how important the experienced players around them are. "It is
vital," he explained. "The idea is to make a team where you have four or
five experienced players and put around them young, talented players, so
that they can grow up and make a team alive and fresh, that is what I want.
"Those experienced players have been very important because they are always
out there spreading the right messages - they have been really terrific for
Now the season is over, Zola will also look at his playing staff and decide
who to keep and who will be going out of the Upton Park exit door. Strikers
Diego Tristan and David Di Michele were both left on the bench against Boro
on Sunday, but Zola was keen to point out that nothing should be read into
his selection. "No, really, I just wanted to play differently today. It
doesn't mean anything, I haven't made any decisions yet," he said. "To be
honest, Di Michele probably deserved to play from the beginning. He has got
my appreciation because he has played very well this season.
Hammers' quartet could miss month of season
27 May 2009
The Hammers are set to be without James Tomkins, Freddie Sears, Junior
Stanislas and Savio during September and October. The foursome are all
likely to be playing in the under-20 World Cup which is being held in Egypt.
England are in the same group as Ghana, Uruguay and Uzbekistan, while Savio
is likely to be in the Germany squad who take on the United States, Cameroon
and South Korea. The tournament beg-ins on September 24 with the final not
scheduled for October 16, meaning all four could miss a sizeable chunk of
the new campaign.
Collison: Gabbidon return boost for West Ham, Wales
28.05.09 | tribalfootball.com
West Ham United midfielder Jack Collison says the return to full fitness of
Danny Gabbidon is a big boost for the club and Wales. Collison said: "Being
at West Ham I have seen it at first hand how hard he has had to work. But he
will be a stronger person for it. "He's been out on the training pitch with
us, with the rain pouring down, and he's loved it. You can't get the smile
off his face. "He's glad to be back and it will be a boost for club and
country. He's missed a lot but people should not forget that in his first
full season for West Ham he won the player-of-the-year trophy, so everyone
knows what he can do. "He brings quality to any team. He needs a full
pre-season under his belt and then he will become a major player again for
Wales and West Ham."
West Ham's Collison delighted with past 12 months
28.05.09 | tribalfootball.com
West Ham United midfielder Jack Collison is delighted with the last 12
months. "It's been a massive 12 months for me," he told whufc.com. "I think
I've really progressed as a player and have just really enjoyed my time
playing in the team, learning new things and getting the opportunity to
play. "I definitely have to pinch myself sometimes, especially on days like
Sunday when I won the Young Hammer of the Year award. Just getting the
opportunity to play week-in, week-out in the Premier League is brilliant and
I'm really enjoying it."
Having secured a regular place in Gianfranco Zola's team, Collison is now
aiming to make further improvements to his game to ensure he remains in the
starting eleven at the start of the 2009/10 campaign. "I'm still fairly
young and I'm fairly new in the team as well so I'm going to keep learning
things on the training ground and by playing against new players. Obviously
the manager wants me to improve as well so I'm going to take bits and bobs
and try to keep progressing."