Clarke relishing Collins return

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West Ham assistant boss Steve Clarke welcomes James Collins back to Upton Park on Wednesday hoping the defender has a "stinker" against his former employers.

The Wales centre-back left the Hammers for Aston Villa for £5million on this summer's transfer deadline day. Clarke was sad to see the 26-year-old leave and hopes he does not return to the capital to haunt his former side.

"Circumstances dictated he had to go," Clarke said.

"He left on very good terms with everybody at the club and he's desperate for us to do well, although I'm sure he'll want to beat us tonight as he's a professional.

"He's gone, we have to move on from it. I think he says himself he improved during the time myself and Gianfranco have been here. That's pleasing.

"But I hope he has a stinker tonight though, if I'm honest!"

Collins has formed a superb partnership with Richard Dunne at the heart of the Villa defence as Martin O'Neill's men set about attempting to break into the top four and the Champions League positions.

West Ham's backline, meanwhile, is as porous as they come, something that is giving Clarke - the former Scotland and Chelsea full-back - sleepless nights.

"We have conceded 14 goals in the last six games - that's too many and we know that," he added.

"We are working as hard as we can to address that. Confidence is one of the reasons. If you aren't winning matches, confidence goes. You become over-anxious to win, and you can leave yourself a little bit open."

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European News
UEFA Champions League
Richard Dunne
James Collins
Aston Villa
West Ham United

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