West Ham centre-back James Collins insists his side need to wrap Dimitri Payet in “cotton wool” so that he can continue to help the club climb the Premier League table.
The 28-year-old joined the Hammers from Marseille last summer for £10.75million and he has been a revelation at Upton Park ever since.
He has scored nine times so far this season and also provided six assists even though he spent nearly eight weeks on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury.
Payet’s performances were rewarded with a new five-and-half-year deal at the start of this month and he repaid the club by firing them into the next round of the FA Cup at the expense of Blackburn Rovers.
Slaven Bilic’s side, priced at 34.00 to finish in the top four, have set their sights on European qualification this year and Collins admits Payet’s fitness is key to their chances.
“He is on fire and has been tremendous,” the Wales international said.
“When he is in the mood to play, there are not many better in the league. 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.”