West Ham star excited as a schoolboy at prospect of Wembley trip

08:50 17 May 2012

WEST HAM UTD v DERBY COUNTUY - nPOWER CHAMPIONSHIP - 26/11/2011 - PICTURE BY STEVE BACON

WEST HAM UTD v DERBY COUNTUY - nPOWER CHAMPIONSHIP - 26/11/2011 - PICTURE BY STEVE BACON

STEVE BACON

Hammers defender James Tomkins will make his first ever visit to the new Wembley Stadium on Saturday when West Ham take on Blackpool in the play-off final.

The thought of playing at Wembley has got defender James Tomkins as excited as a small boy on Christmas Eve – quite fitting really because the one and only time he visited the famous stadium, he was only six-years-old!

Tomkins visited the old Wembley to see England take on Bulgaria in a warm-up for Euro ’96, but this is the first time he will be seeing the newly-refurbished stadium.

“I have never played at Wembley and I have never even been to the new stadium,” confirmed the defender. “It is just going to be unbelievable to play at the country’s home stadium.

“The atmosphere is going to be fantastic and I am really looking forward to it.”

Tomkins has been a part of the West Ham set-up since he was just seven and was an avid spectator the last time the club went through the play-offs.

“I went to the Ipswich play-off semi-final game and then the final in Cardiff, so I know what the occasion is like and the atmosphere was amazing,” said the 23-year-old.

Tomkins will start on Saturday on merit. In the past he has been in and out of the team, but this time round he has been one of the most consistent players for West Ham.

“I think this year I have come on a lot,” said Tomkins who has filled in at right back as well as in the midfield this term. “I have grown in confidence and become a man this season.

“I think with my performances this season, I have deserved to keep my place and I feel I am getting better and better. I don’t want the season to end really.”

Tomkins is likely to be partnered by Winston Reid on Saturday and it is a combination that the defender feels has worked well this season.

“I think we are both enthusiastic, young and eager. We complement each other really well as we have similar attributes.

“We can cover each other and we both feel we can play on the floor as well as being good in the air,” said Tomkins, who has adapted well to the different skills needed to play in the Championship.

“It is more physically demanding with so many games,” explained the defender. “You have to recover well and you feel that you are not always 100 per cent fit. Sometimes you can play three games in a week and that is a lot to ask really.

“In the Premier League you are going to get punished more often, but the fitness is the key difference. It is not necessarily easier, it is just that you have to show different attributes in your game.”

One attribute he has shown this season is his ability at set-pieces. Tomkins has scored four goals, including one in the 4-1 victory at Blackpool.

“We do a lot of set-plays in training and that is something that we have worked out this year,” said the defender.

“I have got on the end of quite a few of Matt Taylor’s and Mark Noble’s crosses, my timing has improved, and I am taking the ball well.

“We do work on them in training, but not as much as you think, but it is something that is important. We are not conceding so many either.

“I feel that when I go up, I do have a chance of scoring and that’s important because if you are going up half-hearted then there is no point in going up at all.”

For many, Tomkins has been the Hammer of the year this term and if the ball is delivered from a free kick or a corner in the last minute of Saturday’s final, then the defender will be relishing getting on the end of it.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

Did you know that five police forces have acquired or used drones for surveillance?

Read more

Some 58 “high harm” foreign criminals who were living in the community have been missing since 2010.

Read more

Arsene Wenger is maturing like an average wine. But how phenomenal does his twlight career have to be to overturn any of Fergie’s records?

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

TOP STORIES

Quizzes

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho go head to head (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Football managers are either deified or chastised, depending on results and they are some of the most famous faces in the country.

Read more
Roy Keane  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Roy Keane denied the world of more glorious beard action this weekend by shaving his famous chin hair off, however football is still littered with some impressive beards.

Read more
Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio features in London24's Hammers history quiz. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Test your knowledge of West Ham’s history with this fun quiz from London24.

Read more

West Ham Transfer News

Winston Reid, West Ham United

West Ham co-owner David Gold is expecting key man Winston Reid to sign a new contract at Upton Park shortly.

Read more
Marcelo Brozovic in action for Dinamo Zagreb (Photo by Damir Sencar/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

Check out our Sunday round-up of the latest London transfer news and gossip from around the web.

Read more
Ron Vlaar. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Catch up with the latest London transfer news and gossip from around the web.

Read more
Celtic's Virgil van Dijk (Photo by Samuel Kubani/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

Catch up with the latest London transfer news and gossip from around the web.

Read more