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Carlton Cole of West Ham and Magnus Okuonghae of Colchester - Colchester United vs West Ham United, Pre-season Friendly at The Weston Homes Community Stadium - 21/07/12 - MANDATORY CREDIT: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO - Self billing applies where appropriate - 0845 094 6026 - email@example.com - NO UNPAID USE.
Nathaniel John, West Ham Correspondent
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Hammers striker excited for new campaign and confident of top-flight survival
West Ham striker Carlton Cole is pleased with how the team appear to be gelling in their pre-season fixtures, following a return to winning ways at Colchester United on Saturday.
Cole led the Hammers frontline at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, being flanked by Nicky Maynard and trialist Colin Kazim-Richards in the first half.
And the England man combined with Maynard for the opening goal of the game, heading down for the former Bristol City man to volley home.
“It was nice to see us do that link-up early in pre-season,” said Cole. “This is what we need – to be a tight unit as early as possible and I think that will see us confident for the start of the season.
“We have players who are not yet fit, those who are away on Olympic duty and hopefully new players to come in, so by the time they are here, they can all gel in nicely.
“It was a tough game but that is what you want. It was a nice stadium to play in, there was a good atmosphere and once again we also had terrific support from our fans.”
With the Premier League season now less than a month away, Cole is excited to be playing in the top flight once again, but is warning fans and players alike that the aim first and foremost is survival.
“People are talking about the new season – we have Premier League players and you have to be ambitious,” he said.
“But to get to mid-table in our first season back and then look to progress from there is what you would be looking at.
“You want to replicate the likes of Norwich and Swansea, who did well, and when you look at Queens Park Rangers surviving, all the newly promoted teams stayed up.
“We are looking to try and do the same.”
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has made no secret of his desire to strengthen his squad ahead of the new season, and Cole is keen to welcome any new arrivals that will improve the team.
“The gaffer and the club are working hard to bring new players in,” he said.
“The manager knows how he wants to improve us before the start of the season and I am sure he will do that.”
Pre-season has also seen the involvement of some of the Academy youngsters make the step up to train and play with the first team, and Cole is relishing his role as a senior member of the squad.
“I am one of the older – slightly older – players now,” he added. “We have a few young boys in and around the squad and all I can do is help and guide them with my experience, like I was given.
“I missed a couple of games early on and had to do a bit of catching-up, but now I’m feeling good and looking forward to the next few games.”