Fit again Upson can lead Irons to Europe
By JONATHAN CLEGG MATTHEW Upson is confident West Ham will put their injury woes behind them and march up the Premier League table next season. Upson enjoyed a successful first full campaign at Upton Park last year, winning back his place in the England
By JONATHAN CLEGG
MATTHEW Upson is confident West Ham will put their injury woes behind them and march up the Premier League table next season.
Upson enjoyed a successful first full campaign at Upton Park last year, winning back his place in the England side and scoring a memorable winner against Manchester United in December.
But the 29-year-old defender ended the season on the sidelines of the season as a calf injury forced him to spend the final weeks in the club's crowded treatment room.
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He is now back in training as the squad gear up for the new season and with the other long-term casualties also returning to fitness, Upson is optimistic that the Hammers can fight for a top-six finish in the league.
"I am finding my feet again in pre-season after recovering from my injury over the summer," Upson said.
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"I was disappointed to miss the last few games of last season as felt I was playing well.
"But I have put that behind me now and am looking forward to what will hopefully be a 100 per cent season for me in terms of staying fit.
"The team didn't quite have that edge in those games to go and get victories to get into those European spots last year so hopefully we can get closer to achieving that this season.
"There is a good feeling of confidence and optimism among everyone and having a nearly fit squad out on the training pitch everyday is huge boost, which in turn should result in us finishing higher up the table this season."
Upson knows that the return of injured defenders Danny Gabbidon and James Collins will lead to fierce competition for places in the back-line at Upton Park this season.
Yet he believes the presence of the Wales duo will give the team a major boost as they attempt to qualify for Europe.
He said: "The way I see it is that the more competition we have, the healthier the squad and that is the attitude amongst the whole squad I think. We really missed players like [Collins] and Gabbs last season so it will be good to see them back.
"James Tomkins also did very well when he got his chance and there is no reason why he can't continue where he left off.
"I know I have to fight to get my place back but will obviously do my hardest to do that.
"I know some players really don't like pre-season but I don't mind it to be honest, it can he tough after you have had six weeks off but you have to go through this hard work to be ready for the new season so I just see it as part and parcel of the job.