Player returns please Zola

Gianfranco Zola has received a lift ahead of the Saturday's visit of Portsmouth by the return of several key players.

Carlton Cole returns from his three-match suspension while Valon Behrami and James Tomkins have returned from calf and knee injuries respectively. Matthew Upson is also fit after recovering from the dead leg he suffered last weekend against Everton. The positive news was continued as Zola revealed that Kieron Dyer returned to full training this week after recovering from the double leg break he suffered in August 2007.

He said: "The only new injury this week is Diego Tristan who is still out after getting a kick in the reserve team. Nobody else is injured apart from the long-term players. We are going to have a few of the players back. Behrami is back, Tomkins is back and it looks good."

Jonathan Spector is also doing well as he closes on a return from his hip injury and, with Mark Noble only a few weeks away from full training, it means just Danny Gabbidon and Dean Ashton remain the club's long-term absentees.

With nearly a full squad to pick from the manager has been working hard with the squad at Chadwell Heath. "We spoke about the [Everton] game and we saw the goals. We know exactly what things are working well and we also know what is not working very well. I know that when you are trying to change something and establish a new mentality and system - a new way to see football - things do not click immediately."

The performances of the side have been encouraging of late and Zola is confident his side's efforts will be rewarded soon. "You have to believe in what you are doing and I do believe in what I am trying to create here," he said. "I know what the teams in this and other countries do in training and I know what we are doing in training is good as them - in many cases better. We just need to be patient and wait for the result. I am sure that they will come."

In Tony Adams, Zola will come up against a man he knew well from his playing days in the Premier League at the weekend and expects the game to be as hard as the many battles the pair enjoyed on the pitch. "It will be a tough match. They won the last match and they are certainly confident so it is going to be a difficult match. I expect it to be a physical game but I think we are ready to cope with that. We are prepared."

The Premier League table is extremely tight and a win could see West Ham United move up to tenth. "If you win two games you might find yourself in the top ten positions. It's very tight around the middle and bottom zones and it'll be close so we have to make sure we don't get too carried away by emotions and focus on our game and the table will improve."