Joe Cole 'raring to go' ahead of new season for West Ham

The 31-year-old is hoping to kick on back with his boyhood club after a campaign disrupted by injury, and believes a having a good pre-season is crucial to his chances

West Ham midfielder Joe Cole is eager to remain fit and in form ahead of his first full season since returning to the club.

The 31-year-old began his professional career with the London side in 1998, but left in order to join Chelsea five years later having made 150 appearances.

A disappointing spell with Liverpool followed before a loan switch to Ligue 1 side Lille.

He brought an injury-hit stint to an end by securing an 18-month contract with West Ham in January and - having scored two goals and provided three assists in his first eight games back at Upton Park - Cole is hoping to hit the ground running in 2013-14.

"It has been great for me to be back at West Ham and I am delighted to be here, as I said when I returned," he told the club's official website.

"First and foremost, I want to do my best so make sure I stay fit and in shape, playing for the team and helping the club to progress.

"It has all gone well and I am just excited to be back now. Hopefully I can enjoy a strong pre-season and be raring to go for the start, which is only just over six weeks away."

Sam Allardyce's side are currently in Cork as they lay the foundations for the new Premier League campaign with a pre-season tour of Republic of Ireland, and Cole says preparations are going to plan.

"We're back in the swing of it all now, having returned to pre-season on Monday and flying out here to Cork to work on our fitness," he added.

"We are looking to be strong and continue where we left off last season. It is a steady but upward curve, focusing on our fitness and looking to go one better than last season."