Zola targets home comforts

Gianfranco Zola has been back in training with his squad this week bouyed by last weekend's many positives but fully focused on the test ahead and with  feet firmly on the ground.

High-flying Aston Villa head to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday and the manager knows his team must replicate their fine away performances- four games unbeaten - in front of their own supporters against such in-form opposition. For Zola, it is just a question of belief as he can find no fault with the players' attitude or approach - either at Chadwell Heath or in Barclays Premier League action.

"I think right now we have to have a little confidence when we play in front of our supporters because recently we have been lacking on that," he said. "If we can get the freedom that we have when we play away from home, I am sure things will be much better."

The manager - who has spoken recently of his love of flying after gaining his pilots' licence - has no doubt the team are close to taking flight, which could bode well for the second half of the season with everything, including the FA Cup, to play for. Certainly, he thinks some of his team will only be better for the efforts shown in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Sunday.

Speaking of scorer Craig Bellamy, Zola said: "I am pleased for Craig. The goal will help him to build his confidence because he has been playing well but not scoring. This goal will help him a lot and I am pleased for him and I am sure it can be the first of a long series. I was so pleased for him, it was like I had scored myself."

Strike partner Carlton Cole earned praise from the manager again, and he is backing the forward to find the end product his forward play deserves. "If Carlton can improve a little bit with his finishing he can be a hell of a player. The way he works for the team, his control of the ball is unbelievable. I am pleased with him."

Naturally for a team that has made defensive excellence a key characteristic in recent games, Zola had more words of praise for his rearguard. He was also quick to emphasise the protection in front of and behind the back four. "The centre-halves were outstanding and the midfield were brilliant. Not just Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Jack Collison and Valon Behrami were brilliant - Jack has done fantastically well for a young player while sometimes I think there is two of Valon on the pitch.

"In goal, Robert Green has been on a roll and has been outstanding in his last five or six matches. It is amazing. He is doing great. We knew he was capable of these great saves and he is doing it regularly. I am pleased for him. He has got a great chance to go with the national team."