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West Ham boss Curbishley: Cole has grown up

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley believes Carlton Cole can finally begin fulfilling his potential this season.

Curbishley is convinced a ruthless summer fitness regime was the reason behind the re-emergence of a player he had inherited from Alan Pardew.

He said: "When I came here last Christmas he had hardly played a game and wasn't looking fit. The senior players didn't play in the reserves but there was an FA Cup game here against Brighton and I threw five players in to assess them and he was one. He scored but looked shattered.

"So in the summer we sat down and told him that if he was to have any chance he would have to get himself fit and be ready to be called upon. Before he hadn't been in a position to take advantage.

"He knew he still had people in front of him but the main thing was to be fit enough to take his chance when it came and that's what he has done.

"He had been drifting and had got used to that. He scored against Brighton and stayed in against Fulham but after 80 minutes he was shattered when we had already made three subs and Bobby Zamora then got sent off. He couldn't cope then but now he is an position to show people what he can do.

"He has grown up here but he is not a young player any more. He has had to win over a few people here - me, the staff and some fans.

"He had to apply himself more and think about the game and how he could force his way in. The way looked blocked for him but we kept telling him it could easily change."

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Tribal Football Staff

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