Tomkins ready to stake his claim

James Tomkins insists he is ready to claim a regular place in West Ham's starting line-up as he steps in for injured defender James Collins

By JONATHAN CLEGG

James Tomkins insists he is ready to claim a regular place in West Ham's starting line-up as he steps in for injured defender James Collins.

The England Under-19 ace replaced Collins after just 16 minutes of the club's defeat at Bolton last weekend and now looks set for an extended run in the Hammers first-team.

Tomkins was playing in the Championship last month after the teenager was loaned to Derby County in a bid to gain regular action.


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But the 19-year-old is confident that the injury to Wales defender Collins will allow him to prove that he is a Premier League performer.

He said: "You obviously feel for the lad and hope he's not going to be out for too long because he's been playing really well, but maybe there is a chance for me.

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"I didn't do too bad [on Saturday] considering I came on when we were 2-0 down in fairly difficult circumstances, but I'm learning with every game I play.

"If I get my chance then I've got to take it."

The West Ham academy graduate started five matches for the club last season but has failed to make a single league appearance during the current campaign.

Yet Tomkins is determined to show that he has improved during his spell out of the side.

"This season I've been out on loan at Derby and obviously found out a lot about myself there," Tomkins said.

"The Championship is a very demanding league and I've learned a lot.

"I'm still young and physically I think I've come up much further than I did last year. I feel like I'm ready and when I get the chance, I've got to take it."

Tomkins looks set to start against Manchester City on Sunday after Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola confirmed that regular starter Collins faces a month on the sidelines.

"It is a pity that we will lose him for a while as he has been playing well," Zola said.

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