Monday 08 Dec
Updated Monday 08 Dec 12:58

Manager on Monday

Gianfranco Zola said his players are fighting fit and chomping at the bit ahead of tonight's mouth-watering Premier League fixture with Tottenham Hotspur.

With England international Kieron Dyer looking to take part in a practice match and his side on a three-match unbeaten run during which they have not conceded a single goal, Zola was wearing his customary broad smile ahead of the visit of Spurs.

"Touch wood, it looks like the situation is improving," he said. "We nearly have everybody back and people are not getting injured the way they used to be and so that is another thing we are improving. For us, these are very important things."

Zola is hopeful that his players' improved physical condition will ensure his squad is in good shape as the season wears on. "When the players are working well the physios are doing a good job and the fitness coach has improved their conditions also," he added. "When you are fit and well-trained, it is very difficult for you to get injured. That is one of the secrets.

"Plus also the medical department is working together with us very well and this is improving the situation." One player who has been fit and firing all season long is midfielder Jack Collison, who burst on to the Premier League scene by scoring the first senior goal of his career against Everton and producing impressive performances against Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth.

The West Ham United manager believes the 20-year-old's form is the perfect example of the intensive work he and his coaches have been doing with the first-team squad since their arrival in September. As well as Zola himself, first team coaches Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen and fitness coach Antonio Pintus have been working closely with Collison and his team-mates to improve both their technical and physical capabilities.

"Don't take me in the wrong way but when I say I have got a great staff to work with, I really mean that," said Zola. "I am not just saying that because they are my staff but because they are really good. "To give an example how good the training sessions are you can see in Jack Collison - the player he was before I came here is nowhere near the player he is now.

"His quality of the game has gone up so much and I am very impressed when I see these things. That gives me the confidence, the belief, the way the training is very good."