Forward thinking at Portsmouth

Gianfranco Zola heads to Portsmouth with his team on Boxing Day backing his strikers to fire the goals to extend the club's unbeaten run away from home to five matches.

The squad trained on Christmas Day and all will travel to the south coast in good spirits but with a determination to find the back of the net. As well as the positive mood in the camp, there is the welcome news that Kieron Dyer is pushing for a return. The manager said: "Kieron has been training very hard and he's going to a different level. There might be a be possibility to play in the FA Cup against Barnsley. We are trying everything to get him fitter quickly."

Zola - who also has James Collins, Valon Behrami and Scott Parker in his travelling party - has devoted extra time to his strikeforce this week but has said they should not feel under any extra pressure - especially because of the bright individual and team play of late that leads him to believe the goals will come. "The important thing is to keep confident and keep working. My strikers obviously feel like they want to do more. The only way they can do that is to carry on working and believe in themselves. If they lose that self-belief it makes it very difficult."

As well as Carlton Cole and Craig Bellamy who have led the line recently, Zola has Diego Tristan itching to make an impact - especially after the Spanish striker's two-goal show alongside fellow goalscorer Freddie Sears for the reserves a fortnight ago. "Diego is one of the players that I've got at my disposal," the manager said. "I was waiting for him to get a bit fitter than he was but I knew it would be a bit of time. Now he is much better and he will get his opportunity soon."

On the subject of awaydays, Zola is expecting the same approach the team had in earning draws at Anfield and Stamford Bridge this month while he has praised the players for their performance at home against Aston Villa, even if the end result was not forthcoming. "We played against Liverpool away and Chelsea away, games which weren't easy for us but we did it. Against Portsmouth it depends on how we perform and if we can continue to perform as we have done then we're likely to get a good result. It is down to us."

While Zola is focused on his squad, he has also updated on the progress of Dean Ashton - "probably the best finisher in the team" who continues to work on a personal programme as well as becoming more involved with the squad. "He is very positive. He is progressing very well but we can't say when he is back, it is too soon. These things are down to the subject, how he reacts and improves. So far he is doing very well but I don't think it is a short thing. I don't think we'll have him in January or February."