West Ham's Jack Collison is looking "onwards and upwards" after making his first appearance since the Championship play-off final.
The 24-year-old has had to watch the Hammers' fine start to life back in the top flight from the sidelines due to a long-standing knee problem. Collison, who last featured for first team as they overcame Blackpool at Wembley back in May, stepped up his recovery from injury with the West Ham development squad at Norwich on Monday night.
The Wales international came through 45 minutes of the 3-1 Barclays Under-21 Premier League defeat and could not hide his delight at returning. "It was great to be back out there again," Collison told the club's official website, www.whufc.com.
"I am obviously a little bit rusty, but I have ticked a box by completing 45 minutes and hopefully it will be onwards and upwards from there.
"I loved it. It was great to be playing football again, even though it was not the best conditions out there. I thought the boys did well and were unlucky not to get a point out of it."
Collison's return is a welcome boost to injury-hit West Ham, who are without the likes of Mohamed Diame, Ricardo Vaz Te and Yossi Benayoun.
He will not, though, pinpoint a date for his first-team return, focusing instead on continuing his rehabilitation.
"I will leave that for the manager to decide," Collison said.
"I have obviously been out for quite a while so for me it is all about building up my fitness and getting that sharpness back.
"I am not sure whether the reserves will have any more games or have arranged any friendlies [before the Elite Group Stage starts in January] but I will be training more now so hopefully I can return as quickly as possible."