Goalless draws are hardly the currency that Carlton Cole is keen to deal in, but the fit-again frontman reckons West Ham United are very close to rediscovering their goalscoring touch. 

As he did at Swansea City's Liberty Stadium six days earlier, Cole joined the fray shortly after the hour mark against Aston Villa on Saturday, with the Hammers drawing a blank for a second successive Barclays Premier League outing.
On reflection, Cole conceded the stalemate was probably about fair on the day, while insisting that it is up to him and his colleagues to make more of their possession in the final third.

Read Big Sam's take on Saturday's draw here

He told West Ham TV: "We had so many crosses in the box, we just need a little bit of presence in there to make things happen. It wasn't to be in the first half, I think we got something like 18 crosses in the box, a crazy statistic. Then in the second we had 20, so we're disappointed that we couldn't get the bodies in the box to finish off the chances or cause a little bit of mayhem.

"The gaffer has addressed that with us, not just blaming those not getting in the box, but the quality of crosses as well. It goes both ways, but at least we're overloading those positions and hopefully we can push on from there. As soon as we notch one or two we'll be alright, because we're getting in the right positions and doing the right things. It's just about the quality in the final third, that's all it is.

"[Christian] Benteke had a great, great chance which could have buried us and all our efforts, but we did OK to hang in there. But we did more than hang in there, because we had most of the ball, I think. Next time we've just got to finish off the chances that are presented to us. I didn't see any clear-cut chances against Villa anyway, so that's why it was a stalemate. I think a draw's a fair result."

Saturday's appearance from the bench was, curiously, his first at the Boleyn Ground since 19 January 2013 and Cole was thrilled with his rapturous reception from the Hammers faithful.  

"I was buzzing when I came on," he confirmed. "The fans showed me a lot of love, which I always appreciate. I just want to reward them and try my best for them to get us higher up the league as much as possible."

As for his own contribution, the 30-year-old is pragmatic in his assessment of things, acknowledging that his return has to be carefully managed. Having missed the entirety of pre-season, Cole is quickly finding his feet once more, with 120 minutes in his legs in the last week alone.

He continued: "I'm fit now, I think. It's just up to the manager to make a decision. I've obviously had to do a fast-track training [programme] to get up to match speed. I'm nearly there now and it's up to the manager to put me in when he wants. I'm a fit lad anyway, so I adapted quite quickly. I'm raring to go now. I want to get my head down, progress and get even fitter. 

"He [Sam Allardyce] knows his own mind and he thinks I need a little bit more. I've never really had a hamstring injury or a pull before and I don't want to start now. You've got to manage your body. The medical team obviously know me very well, having been here for almost eight years. So they know exactly how to manage me."   

Cole will likely have a part to play at Carrow Road next Saturday, where the Hammers, ironically, were held to a goalless draw last season. The West Ham No24 is desperate to buck that trend, not least to reward the Hammers' outstanding defensive efforts.  

Norwich City, meanwhile, were on the receiving end of a 7-0 thumping at Manchester City on Saturday and Cole wants West Ham to exploit those deficiencies in next weekend's teatime kick-off.

"It's six clean sheets in ten, so imagine if we'd just scored one goal in each of those! We'd be way up the table, but that's how it goes. Hopefully next time we can do more to just get that one goal and then we can build from there.

"Last year, when we went there, [to Norwich], we played quite well. Hopefully we can try to take advantage of what Manchester City have done to them on Saturday and we'll see what happens."