December 5 2013 Latest news:
Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Hammers defender James Tomkins is delighted to have had a full pre-season with the club this year
West Ham defender James Tomkins seemed to have the world at his feet this time last year.
He had been an integral part of the Hammers Championship promotion team alongside Winston Reid in defence and he had been given the honour of representing Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics, writes Dave Evans.
But it was at that point that it all went wrong for the centre half. He hardly saw any action in the Olympics and when he returned to Upton Park, he found that James Collins had taken his place in the starting line-up.
“It’s nice to have a pre-season with West Ham again,” admitted the 24-year-old who has been at the club since he was just seven.
“Last season I wasn’t really with the team until the start of the season and that probably had an effect on my chances as I wasn’t appearing in front of the gaffer.
“He didn’t see me play a lot really as I didn’t play much for Team GB and the other two made a partnership together, so it was always quite hard for me to break into that, unless injuries or bad performances came into play.
“I came into the squad every now and then and did well, but I was in and out really, so it is just nice to have a full pre-season this time.”
Tomkins made 18 Premier League starts last season, compared to 36 for Reid and 29 for Collins and the fact that he also had to fill in at right back and even in central midfield, emphasised that he was clearly down the pecking order.
But this season he is determined to show boss Sam Allardyce what he can do and it was he, rather than Collins, who played the opening 45 minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly win over Pacos de Ferreira.
“Pre-season has been going really well,” said Tomkins. “I have played quite a few games, more than most actually which is good. I think I did all right against Pacos and it was another 45 minutes, so it is was nice to get that under my belt.”
Tomkins will be hoping to resurrect the understanding he formed with Reid during their successful Championship season and he thinks that West Ham have a chance to do even better than they did last year in the Premier League.
“If you look around the squad, the personnel looks a lot stronger,” he insisted. “We have managed to sign a few players, both experienced and some younger ones. It is good to get that mixture and hopefully we can start well again this season.
“Obviously there is always talk about the second season syndrome, but we don’t tend to talk about that at all. We are looking to get better than last year.
“We are not just looking at staying in the league anymore, we want to improve and go forward. Some people may look at it as a case of us just staying up, but that is not the case, we want to be better than 10th and all the players and the staff are putting in the work to achieve that.”
Two seasons ago, Tomkins was part of the West Ham team that started their campaign at home to Cardiff City, only to lose to a last-minute goal. He is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“I played in that Cardiff game. We lost 1-0 and I remember what a disappointing start it was to the Championship,” reflected the former Hammers Academy boy.
“We didn’t deserve to lose that day, but that is how the game goes sometimes. We gave them payback in the Championship play-off semi-finals and hopefully it will be more of the same this weekend.”
Still only 24, Tomkins will be hoping to play more than an understudy role in the West Ham team this season and add to the 150-plus appearances he has already made in claret and blue.
Whether his manager is thinking along the same lines, remains to be seen, but it is clear that the Newcastle United target, is still a vital part of this West Ham set-up.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce believes that Arsenal have the ability to win the league this season.