Gianfranco Zola is convinced his in-form West Ham United team can extend the club's superb unbeaten Premier League run away from home at Newcastle United on Saturday.

The Hammers head for St James' Park full of confidence after winning two and drawing three of their last five top-flight matches on their travels. That run - the best top-flight showing since a half-dozen matches unbeaten in the 2000/01 campaign - has seen United secure impressive wins at Sunderland and Portsmouth as well as valuable points at Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Chelsea. Manager Zola and his players are confident of securing yet another positive result against the Magpies.

"The mood is quite high. The players are getting their confidence back and they are performing well but I believe that we can still improve and I'm expecting that we will improve in the next game. I'm very pleased [with the away form]. The team is looking solid right now and is playing well. The confidence is coming back to everybody, even to the manager!"

Zola began his reign as West Ham manager with a 3-1 win over Newcastle at the Boleyn Ground on 20 September. Since then, the north-east club has appointed Joe Kinnear as manager, owner Mike Ashley has abandoned plans to sell and the team has climbed out of the Premier League's relegation zone. Saturday's hosts may have lost their last two top-flight matches and go into the weekend without a host of injured first-team players but Zola is prepared for a stern test.

"I'm expecting a tough game, obviously, because they need points and they will be very determined to get them. But we are prepared. I think we have prepared the whole week properly. We are looking forward to playing this game. I personally can't wait. It's going to be tough but we can cause them a lot of problems."

One player who Newcastle fans will be understandably wary of is Kieron Dyer, who made a successful comeback after 16 months out with a broken leg in last weekend's FA Cup third round win over Barnsley. The England forward made 251 appearances in eight years at St James' Park before moving to east London in August 2007.

Zola said: "He is a very important player for this club and I want him to become a very important player for me as well. He knows that. The other day when he played he did very good things. He needs to improve his fitness level because the Premier League is hard, especially physically. I'm pleased with him. He's done well the other day and I'm sure we will try to get him fit quickly."

Off the pitch, manager Zola also reiterated his desire to keep his best players at the Boleyn Ground, but admitted he was keen to trim down the size of his first-team squad. His positive mood as he looks for a third positive result in the north-east this season is also set to be boosted by the return of Matthew Upson, Lucas Neill and Valon Behrami from injury, while Scott Parker will be available again after suspension.

"We want to [keep our best players]. We have targets to achieve. We have things to achieve and we know that if we are going to achieve what we want to achieve that we need our best players so we want to keep them. We hope so. We are trying very hard.

"What we are trying to do here is to create a situation where everyone is happy. I said it the first day that I came in that this team has got a big, big squad and, when everybody is fit, I don't want to have players who are only training and are not happy because they are not playing. We are trying to create a situation where everybody can get a game so there is the prospect that some players might need to go."