Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Seeing Stars

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage then it becomes more beautiful. It is in this spirit that
Calum Davenport has been speaking to the media for the first time since breaking a bone in his neck in the first game of his recent loan spell at Watford. The defender joined The Hornets as cover for Danny Shittu, who has been on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. However, disaster struck for the West Ham man after team-mate Darius Henderson landed awkwardly on him in the game against Charlton. Talking to Sky Sports News, Davenport said that he believed the injury is going to make him a better person and that he is just thankful his football career is not over.

"I'm definitely going to have a different aspect on everything that I'm doing to be honest," he stated. "I think there was a lot of swelling and bleeding around my neck and obviously I broke a bone. It was quite worrying for me, but thankfully I'm still walking because some people don't come through it. I'm going to be alright. It's a long road but I'm going to come through it. It's difficult when you're picking up injury after injury to stay motivated and to see any light at the end of the tunnel, but I've got a good family around me who can pick you back up when you are feeling low. It's made me a better person. Even in the last two weeks since it happened I look at things differently. I was lying there thinking the worst. I'm just thankful that I'm still going to be able to play football which is something I love."

Two others who are well on the road to recovery are Craig Bellamy and Bobby Zamora. Both strikers were on target for West Ham United on Monday in the specially arranged practice match against Queen's Park Rangers. Zamora, after a knee injury, was getting his first run-out since 28 August and was a lively presence in the 2-1 victory alongside Bellamy, himself just coming back from an abdominal problem. The duo played for 60 and 65 minutes respectively. While Bellamy is nearer to full fitness having played a reserve-team game and then come on as a substitute at Wigan Athletic, Zamora has not figured since the League Cup game away to Bristol Rovers. There were also starts for Julien Faubert on the right wing and Nolberto Solano in central midfield. Faubert has not featured in the last two first-team games because of a slight calf strain after making three substitute appearances previously but played the full 90 minutes. Solano also continued his comeback from a hamstring problem and, having got most of the second half at Wigan on Saturday, played the first half before making way.

While Alan Curbishley looks forward to some relief on the injury front, he has again refuted the rumours circulating over the weekend concerning the extent of Scott Parker's injury. The midfielder is currently on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury in the win over Manchester United in December. Reports over the weekend suggested Parker could be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with the latest injury, but Curbishley insists the former Newcastle and Charlton man will be back in action in six weeks. "Contrary to stories this week, Scotty Parker is about a month or six weeks away," Curbishley told the club's official website.

Elsewhere, Anton Ferdinand has revealed he is relishing life at West Ham United and insists that he is playing with freedom for "the first time in a long while". The home-grown centre-back, who turns 23 next month, has been a rock at the heart of the defence since returning to action in stunning fashion with a goal in the 2-1 victory at home to Manchester United on 29 December. It is clear for all to see that the longest serving player at the Boleyn Ground is focused solely on his football. "I am enjoying myself," he said. "This is the first time in a long while where I am playing with nothing over my head and I feel free. I am concentrating on nothing but football and I think that is showing in my play." Such has been the nature of his performances, that Ferdinand, who earned 17 caps as an Under-21 international, admitted he had hoped to figure in Fabio Capello's initial 30-man England squad. He added: "I was disappointed but all I can do is play football and play well for West Ham United. That is what I am going to try and maintain." Since that United victory, Ferdinand has formed a terrific partnership with Matthew Upson, who has deservedly received an international call.

Upson will be hoping to feature in England's friendly clash with Switzerland tomorrow; just one of several players representing their country over the next few days. Lucas Neill is in Australia's squad for their opening 2010 World Cup qualifier against Qatar in Melbourne. The match will be played at 7.30pm local time in what will be a tough week for the West Ham United skipper. Neill said: "I will be flying to Australia to play a World Cup qualifier against Qatar on Wednesday night. Then it is straight back on the plane to be ready for Birmingham at home on the Saturday. Physically it is going to be tough but with the break in matches that follows I know I will have a chance to recuperate. My desire to want to qualify for the World Cup coupled with the FIFA ruling means it's a game I must attend. However, I realise this is a very important time for me and the West Ham team as every win is crucial to achieving our European dream so I wish the timing could have been better."

John Pantsil has continued involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations and will be hopeful of selection for Ghana in Thursday's semi-final, while George McCartney is in contention for a start against Bulgaria in Belfast. Mark Noble has been selected by England for the European Under-21 Championship qualifier tonight against the Republic of Ireland in Southampton and Jack Collison will figure today when Wales go to Malta in the same competition. Both countries are firmly in contention for play-off places ahead of the 2009 finals in Sweden. However, the returning Craig Bellamy and Danny Gabbidon were pulled out of the Wales squad against Norway in Wrexham. Freddie Ljungberg will not travel with Sweden to Turkey either as the established captain has been rested to give younger players some valuable experience, and Jonathan Spector is not involved in the US's home friendly against Mexico.

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