Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Hammers defender talks to the Echo ahead of play-off final with Blackpool
JAMES Tomkins says he can’t wait to step out onto Wembley’s hallowed turf tomorrow for the first time in his career.
The 23-year-old from Basildon will walk out with his West Ham teammates at the national stadium as they look to beat Blackpool and secure an immediate return to the Premier League.
Tomkins has played at some of the country’s most famous stadiums but, despite numerous appearances with England in age-group games up to under-21, he has never played at Wembley.
“I’ve never played there so it is something I’m really looking forward to,” said the former Chalvedon School pupil.
“I was going to play there for England under-21s against Portugal but I was not fit enough for that.
“So it will be brilliant playing at Wembley because it is something you dream about, and I’m sure it will be an unbelievable atmosphere.”
Tomkins said the mood in the camp was relaxed as they trained at the Chadwell Heath base this week, but he added there is a steely determination to win tomorrow’s showpiece game against the Seasiders.
He said: “We are all confident and we’re just really looking forward to it.
“It is going to be an unbelievable atmosphere and something we’ll all hopefully remember for the right reasons if we get a victory.
“We’ve played Blackpool a couple of times this year and done well against them.
“But it will be a different game against them on Saturday. It will probably start off at about 100mph, but we are looking forward to it.”
Tomkins has been brilliant for the Hammers this season.
He came runner-up in the club’s player of the year award, and made it into the PFA Championship team of the year.
“I’ve come on a lot this year and I feel I’ve grown up,” he said.
“In the previous experiences I’ve had at the club we’ve been fighting relegation, so it’s been nice to be winning games this year and I’ve taken a lot of confidence from that.”