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Defender Calum determined to grasp his chance

PUBLISHED: 11:47 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:35 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG THE controversial sale of defender Anton Ferdinand to Sunderland last week has generated mixed feelings among West Ham fans. But for Calum Davenport, the £8m departure of Ferdinand to Sunderland was another unforeseen twist in a miracul

By JONATHAN CLEGG

THE controversial sale of defender Anton Ferdinand to Sunderland last week has generated mixed feelings among West Ham fans.

But for Calum Davenport, the £8m departure of Ferdinand to Sunderland was another unforeseen twist in a miraculous journey from hospital bed to Hammers regular.

Davenport suffered a serious neck injury when making his debut on

loan for Watford against Charlton

in January, raising fears that he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Yet six months later Davenport is back in action for West Ham following a remarkable recovery.

Now the decision to off-load Ferdinand has cleared the way for Davenport to keep his place in the starting line-up at Upton Park.

And the former Spurs defender, who started the first three games of the season while Ferdinand was sidelined with a hamstring injury, is determined to grasp his opportunity.

"You can look at it from the point of view that it's one less [player in] competition for the place," Davenport said of Ferdinand's departure.

"There's a chance I can get a run and cement my place. Anton picked up an injury and moved on - that's football.

"But I don't feel as though I'm filling in any gaps. In other people's eyes, that might seem the case, but I'm here to play football, not sit on the bench.

"I want to keep my place. I've had a good pre-season, kept myself fit, kept myself right and sometimes a little bit of luck falls your way."

Fortune has certainly smiled on Davenport in the past 12 months.

The 25-year-old knows he is lucky to be playing again following the neck injury that saw him taken off on a stretcher and immediately transferred to hospital, where he spent several agonising days gradually recovering his movement.

"For anybody that has been through something touch and go like that, I think you appreciate a little bit more what you've got," said Davenport.

"I fractured the vertebrae in my neck and the swelling around the nerve endings, which reach down your arms and legs, was bad.

"The guy landed on my neck and the specialist told me that if he had been another two kilos heavier, I would have been in a wheelchair.

"I lost feeling in my right hand and my right leg for a brief period but thankfully it came back.

"I was one of the lucky ones and I just try and take every game and every training session as it comes.

"It has been a long while and I'm just happy to be playing for a massive club in the best league in the world and long may that continue."

Davenport looks set to continue in the Hammers team following a solid display against Blackburn, which he capped by heading his first goal for the club.

"This is a fantastic club and a fantastic fan base and everybody here has been unbelievable to me," he said. "I hope I can repay them.

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