Zola hints at international excuse

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola felt that losing so many players to international commitments last week did not help the team s cause when it came to tackling Bolton Wanderers at Upton Park on Saturday. The Hammers had eight players away on international du

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola felt that losing so many players to international commitments last week did not help the team's cause when it came to tackling Bolton Wanderers at Upton Park on Saturday.

The Hammers had eight players away on international duty, and though not all of them figured for their national teams, Zola felt that their time away from the training ground at Chadwell Heath was detrimental to the team.

"I must say after every international game, you never know what you are going to get back," said Zola after Saturday's 2-1 defeat.

"It can be good, it can be bad, but it is very difficult to assess in just one day of training when you have all the players back."


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Rob Green and Matty Upson played 90 minutes for England, while Carlton Cole came on as a late substitute in the victory over Egypt at Wembley.

Jack Collison played for Wales; Valon Behrami and Fabio Daprela for the full Swiss team and the under-19s respectively; Jonathan Spector for the United States and James Tomkins was away with England under-21s.

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Most only got back on Friday for training and preparation for the match against Bolton.

"The fact that the international players only came back in the day before did not help us prepare for the game the way I wanted," explained Zola. "We are going to work on that because it is important. It is a mental state and it can be helped."

Fair point? Maybe, maybe not.

Bolton had six players away on international duty - Johan Elmander, Jack Wilshere, Fabrice Muamba, Chung-Yong Lee and Tamir Cohen all seemed to cope well enough with their lack of preparation, while the other - Stuart Holden - was badly injured playing for the United States against Holland.

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