Cole set to return
WEST HAM top scorer Carlton Cole is set to lead the Hammers attack at Goodison Park on Saturday as they make a final push for a Europa League place, writes DAVE EVANS. The 25-year-old England striker has missed the last eight West Ham games after injuring
WEST HAM top scorer Carlton Cole is set to lead the Hammers attack at Goodison Park on Saturday as they make a final push for a Europa League place, writes DAVE EVANS.
The 25-year-old England striker has missed the last eight West Ham games after injuring his groin in England's 4-0 drubbing of Slovakia on March 28.
In that time, the Hammers have scored just five goals and won two matches as Diego Tristan and David Di Michele have struggled for form and that has left them struggling for European qualification.
However, Cole began full training on Tuesday and with only one game to go after Saturday's trip to Everton, manager Gianfranco Zola is likely to throw him straight in against the Toffees.
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Cole has scored a season's-best 11 goals for the Hammers this term, and won two England caps along the way, and though he may not be 100 per cent fit in time for Saturday, he will surely provide more potency than the current strikers.
With Fulham thumping Aston Villa last weekend, they have moved into pole position for the last remaining European slot, but Zola believes that his team can still do it.
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"We are still very up for it," he insisted, despite Saturday's 3-0 drubbing by Liverpool.
"There are two games to go, two very difficult games, especially the one on Saturday. but the players are determined and focused, so don't be surprised if they surprise you."
The chances of Scott Parker or Kieron Dyer returning to the squad seem remote for Saturday, but Jack Collison looks set to replace Junior Stanislas on the left wing, for what looks a must-win game for West Ham if they are to have a chance of making seventh place on the last day.
"We are really close to each other," said Zola. "Our dream is alive and we have a chance.
"Every time we have a bad game, we have always come back really strong, so I am confident that in the next two games, my team is going to give everything, so don't be surprised if we get the results that we want."
West Ham will be expected to beat relegation-haunted Middlesbrough at Upton Park on the last day of the season, but it is the trip to Goodison Park which holds the key to the season.
Cole could make all the difference.