Parker on the way back
By JONATHAN CLEGG SCOTT Parker is looking to pick up where he left off at West Ham last season and put an injury-plagued campaign behind him. Parker endured a disappointing debut season for the Hammers following his summer switch from Newcastle, starting
By JONATHAN CLEGG
SCOTT Parker is looking to pick up where he left off at West Ham last season and put an injury-plagued campaign behind him.
Parker endured a disappointing debut season for the Hammers following his summer switch from Newcastle, starting just 17 Premier League games after battling a long-term knee injury.
The England international's catalogue of problems began just weeks after he moved to Upton Park as he strained knee ligaments during the club's pre-season tour of Austria, keeping him out of action until September.
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Parker's return to the side lasted only two games before he suffered a recurrence of the injury in the 1-0 home defeat against Arsenal and a second comeback in November was cut short inside a month following further damage to the troublesome knee.
But the 27-year-old finished last season with a run of 10 successive games in the starting line-up and he admits he was approaching his best just when the season drew to a close.
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Now he is eager to build on his strong finish to the season and show the sort of form that persuaded Hammers boss Alan Curbishley to shell out £7million for his signature.
"The season ended a bit short for me really as I was making good progress after the stop-start season," said Parker.
"Towards the end I got plenty of games and got where I needed to be. Hopefully from there I can push on this season and can build on that."
Parker returned to pre-season training at Chadwell Heath last week but he has continued his fitness regime through the summer in a bid to hit the ground running this season.
The Hammers kick off their pre-season programme with a trip to Hampton and Richmond Borough on Thursday July 17 - meaning the players have just 10 days to reach match fitness.
He said: "Nowadays you still have to do a bit of fitness in the close-season with the way the game is today and the games coming in such quick succession. But I have had a good break."
Despite working to keep his fitness levels up, Parker concedes that he was apprehensive about the prospect of returning from holiday to a
gruelling pre-season workout.
But the midfielder admits that his spirits were lifted by the sight of a fully-fit squad in training following last season's lengthy casualty list.
He said: "I don't really look forward to [pre-season] as it is four weeks of running around and very hard work but it is nice to see a near enough fit squad, which is one thing we need to try to maintain this season.