WEST Ham midfielder Jack Collison admits he is loving the hustle and bustle of life in the fast lane, having been thrown in at the deep end by Gianfranco Zola.

The young Wales international has made the left midfield role his own in recent weeks after a number of eye-catching performances.

And his personal rise has coincided with the team’s dramatic ascent from relegation turmoil to bona-fide contenders for Europe.

The 20-year-old revealed the key to his success has been the fun factor that Zola has brought to the club since his arrival last year.

“I love every minute out there, especially in front of the home fans, that’s what it’s all about really, so every opportunity I get out there I just go out, enjoy myself and try and do my best for the team,” said Collison.

“He (Zola) says to all of us, go out there and play with a smile, that’s what football is all about, and it’s a great philosophy to have.”

That mindset has also brought the best out of the likes of Carlton Cole, who with five goals in as many games, has played a key role in guiding the team up to eighth in the league.

“Cole has been on fire for the last few months really. He has worked so hard in training and he is really reaping the rewards now,” added Collison.

“We’ve gone up to eighth in the table and I think the boys really deserve to be there. A couple of months ago the performances were there but the results weren’t. But now we are getting both so there is a lot of confidence in the camp at the moment.”

The Hammers will hope their impressive league form can be replicated in the cup, as they look to embark on a lengthy FA Cup run.

Next up is a fourth round clash with League One side Hartlepool on Saturday.