West Ham's Jack Collison dismisses Cardiff underdog claim

Jack Collison
Jack Collison has 11 international caps for Wales

Wales midfielder Jack Collison has dismissed claims that Cardiff are underdogs ahead of the Championship play-off against West Ham.

The two sides meet at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday 3 May, with the return leg on Monday 7 May.

And Hammers star Collison disagrees with Cardiff boss Malky Mackay's belief that the Bluebirds are underdogs.

"We know they're a quality team and obviously they beat us first game of the season," said Collison.

"We got revenge later on so I think it's all set up to be a really good game.

"We know it's going to be tough and obviously I think the best team will come out on top after 180 minutes.

"There's a lot more riding on these games and I suppose there's going to be a full house at both places.

"Everyone's going to be up for it."

Collison, 23, has been a regular starter in central midfield for West Ham this season, as well as featuring for Wales against England in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

The Watford-born player, who qualifies for Wales through his Bedwellty-born grandfather, has scored four goals for the east Londoners in what has proved an under-achieving campaign for the club.

West Ham were the bookmakers' favourites to win the Championship title, but finished two points behind second-placed Southampton in the race for automatic promotion.

"A lot of people expected us to cruise the league, but it's a very tough league as we've found out," added Collison, who signed a long-term deal with the Hammers last August.

"But we've been on a really great run of form lately. We've lost one in 18, so confidence is very high in our camp and everyone fully believes that we're good enough to do it."

Collison has also set his sights on qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with Wales and hopes to play a part in the opening qualifier against Belgium on 7 September.

Chris Coleman, who was named Wales manager in January, replacing the late Gary Speed, will use a friendly against Mexico in New York next month to assess his squad.

"It's a massive game with the qualifiers now only around the corner and I know everyone will want to impress the new manager," said Collison, who made his debut for Wales in a 1-0 friendly win against Iceland in May 2008.

"I'm sure he's going to come in with new ideas so it'll be good to see how well the boys adapt.

"We've been on a great run of form lately and we want to take that into the qualifiers and make sure we qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

"I've heard a lot of good things about [Coleman] from people who've worked with him in the past," added Collison.

"I'm looking forward to getting my head down and getting the chance to work with him.

"It'll be a good experience and I know all the boys feel the same."