Cole is not for sale

WEST HAM have insisted that striker Carlton Cole is not for sale in January at any price, WRITES DAVE EVANS. For so long the forgotten man of Upton Park, the former Chelsea striker has been a revelation in the past two seasons and understandably the big b

WEST HAM have insisted that striker Carlton Cole is not for sale in January at any price, WRITES DAVE EVANS.

For so long the forgotten man of Upton Park, the former Chelsea striker has been a revelation in the past two seasons and understandably the big boys are showing an interest in the 26-year-old.

But while West Ham may consider reasonable offers for defender Matthew Upson, they have categorically ruled out selling Cole for what is reputed to be around �20million.

Both Manchester United and Liverpool have expressed an interest in the England striker, but unless the bid was nearer to �40million, West Ham will not entertain the prospect of losing a player they see as vital, firstly to their survival bid and then to their development as a team.


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Cole top scored with 11 goals last campaign, his highest season tally during his career, and already he is on course to top that.

Unlike other years, the player has gone on record to state the target he has set for himself and it is one that will please West Ham fans as they await his return from a hamstring injury at Hull City on Saturday.

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"I'm trying to play well and stay up there with the top scorers in the Premier League," insisted Cole.

"All I can do is keep tucking them away and hopefully I can progress and get to 10 before Chri-stmas, because that is my target."

The improvement in Cole's game over the last two years has been palpable.

Under Alan Curbishley his touch and hold-up skills improved immeasurably, and under Gianfranco Zola he has added a awareness and an eye for goal.

"I am always trying to improve my game," he said. "I look at videos and see where I should be and where I should have been.

"I'm trying to increase my threat in front of goal by getting into the right place at the right time."

Cole is certainly doing that and his tally of six goals sees him behind only Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent among the English strikers.

It is easy to see why the big clubs are after him, but Cole's career has been transformed under Zola and he is guaranteed a starting place, so loyalty may be a factor for the Londoner.

The club are admant that they do not need to sell in January, and owners Straumur even pumped in a surprise �5m to the West Ham coffers last week to help with the running of the club - hardly the actions of a consortium desperate to sell their investment.

But the real test of their resolve will come in January.

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