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West Ham’s ‘Ginge’ is dreaming of FA Cup final return

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 February 2016

James Collins of West Ham United gets a header on goal during the The FA Cup match between Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 21 February 2016.

James Collins of West Ham United gets a header on goal during the The FA Cup match between Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 21 February 2016.

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Hammers defender James Collins believes this is the strongest West Ham squad he has ever played in

West Ham United's James CollinsWest Ham United's James Collins

The last time West Ham made it to the FA Cup Final, James Collins was an unused substitute who could only watch as Stevie Gerrard and his Liverpool walked away with the trophy.

Now, the Wales international is dreaming about another trip to the final and this time he is keen to play a full part.

“Yeah, I am dreaming about Wembley,” said the 32-year-old after Sunday’s 5-1 crushing of Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. “Obviously I was involved last time we got to the cup final which was one of the biggest highlights of my career.

“But there are still a lot of good teams in it, but we have beaten a lot of the big boys already this season.”

James Collins, West Ham United.James Collins, West Ham United.

Collins had little to do during Sunday’s victory, but he did accept that the speed of the West Ham equaliser paid a big part in their eventual victory.

“It was massive to get level quickly,” he said. “We have been behind a few times lately, but this time we have hit back and got the goal quickly and in the end we could have scored a lot more.”

He was right. Once Dimi Payet put the Hammers in front this was a virtuoso display by the Hammers with the last 10 minutes alone, conjuring up a host of chances as West Ham constantly hit the tiring Rovers players on the break.

“You only have to look at the score to see how comprehensive it was,” said the centre half. “They got their goal which put us on the back foot for 10 minutes, but then we started creating chances and in the end, it could have had even more.”

West Ham United fans show their support in the stands during the Emirates FA Cup, fifth round match at Ewood Park, Blackburn.West Ham United fans show their support in the stands during the Emirates FA Cup, fifth round match at Ewood Park, Blackburn.

Collins certainly knows the ups and downs of West Ham over the last few years. The centre half has made 162 appearances in two spells at the club. And he is convinced that this is as good as it has been.

“I have said it before, I have been at this club for 10 years now and it is the strongest I have been involved in by a mile,” he said.

“The attacking players we have got are frightening and I am just happy I am defending for them and not defending against them.”

Collins also had a word for the fans who made it up to Ewood Park on a Sunday morning to cheer on the team – over 7,000 of them!

“We were driving into the ground and, no disrespect to the Blackburn fans, we thought it was a home game,” he smiled. “There seemed to be West Ham fans everywhere which is unbelievable.

“To bring that many fans just shows how much it means to them too.”

It does mean so much to these fans, many of who will remember the agony of that 2006 final with Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.

They have already beaten Liverpool along the way, now it is just a matter of whether they can finish the job and Collins can make it to the final once again.

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