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Published: 11:45 | 23/2/16

Collins wants Payet protected

Dimitri Payet is vital to West Ham's push for a top-six finish in the Premier League, according to James Collins.

Payet has established himself as a major figure for West Ham since making the move from Marseille in a £10.75million deal last summer, scoring nine goals and creating a further six.

His importance was underlined when the club managed to win just one game when he was sidelined for two months with an ankle ligament injury and with the Hammers hunting for a top-six finish as well as the FA Cup, Collins believes he must be wrapped in cotton wool to ensure he stays fit for the remainder of the season.

"He is on fire and has been tremendous. When he is in the mood to play, there are not many better in the league," Collins said.

"It is unbelievable what he does. When he is on it, I haven't played with or against anyone better. He is a magic player and the West Ham fans are seeing the best of it.

"We have to wrap him up in cotton wool and get him out on the pitch as much as we can."

Collins has been impressed with how the 28-year-old has settled into life at Upton Park and feels the club will benefit from having secured him on a five-and-a-half-year deal.

"He just doesn't bring what he does on the pitch, he is a great lad to have around the place. The fans adore him for bringing that sort of football. It is a massive scalp to have him sign on for as long as he has," he explained.

"Everyone thinks the same. I've just signed a new deal as well. You want to be part of a club that is moving forward.

"Everything is going in the right direction with the stadium, the way we are playing football, the signings we are making.

"Obviously a good cup run makes us attractive for players to come too."

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