Upson has double ambition

Matthew Upson is hoping to end the weekend with a twin cause for celebration - victory against Bolton Wanderers and then inclusion in Fabio Capello's England squad.

The defender has played a key role under new manager Gianfranco Zola, helping the club to back to back league wins for the first time in a year. A 3-1 home success against Newcastle United was followed by last weekend's 2-1 win away to Fulham. "Confidence is high and people are realising this is an opportunity to put us in an excellent position for the start of the season," Upson said. "A win on Sunday will really confirm a good start to the season for us."

Bolton Wanderers earned four points off West Ham United last season and Upson knows that he and Lucas Neill need to be on their toes against the lively Kevin Davies. The centre-back is expecting a direct game with Bolton mixing up good football with a combative approach. "You do mentally prepare differently for every game in terms what you might face and Bolton are no different. I think every game is physical but Bolton especially like to use that to their strengths and you've got to be prepared for that

"Set-pieces are important - organisation, attacking the ball and being strong in the air. All these things have a slight extra importance than if you were playing someone like Arsenal who are more of a ball on the floor, pass and move style team so you have to prepare slightly differently."

West Ham United have not kept a clean sheet since last February, a run of 18 games stretching back to 23 February. It is not for the want of trying, especially since the arrival of Zola and Steve Clarke. "We've not kept as many clean sheets as we'd have liked, but with the style of play we're using we're always going to be an attacking team at the moment," Upson added. "Defensively we need to work out and be a bit more organised and hopefully get a few clean sheets."

Under the new management, a big emphasis has been placed on the rearguard organisation. "We've done some back four work in terms of shape and positioning, overloading the back four, seven versus five so we have to deal with an overload of bodies. We've been working on that every week and the training's very structured. I'm very much enjoying it. It's a good opportunity for all the players to improve their game and the training is based on improving technically and tactically so that's something we can all benefit from."

Upson is also feeling the benefits at Chadwell Heath of being involved in the England set-up, with the 29-year-old earning his eighth cap in the tremendous 4-1 win in Croatia last month. "It has definitely helped my game [being with England]. This is a very similar set-up to that in terms of the amount of work we do. The 'no days off' training and the double sessions is maybe the mentality that Italian managers have and I think it's something that could bring success so I'm excited."

The England squad to face Kazakhstan at Wembley next Saturday and then travel to Belarus on Wednesday week is named tonight and Upson is crossing his fingers he is involved. "I hope I'm selected and if so I look forward to the ten days of training and the two games. Let's see what happens. [Against Croatia] it was a tough ten days mentally and physically so we have to work hard and be very focused while we're there. It's interesting and you learn a lot."

While John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are ahead of him in the pecking order, Upson knows he just has to maintain his club form to stay in contention. "It's up to me at the moment, I have been given an opportunity to play and it's down to me and that's all I want. Lots of things can happen so I've got to keep hanging in there and improving and proving to the manager I can do the job." He is also hopeful that he is joined by club-mates with a number of players in form. "It's great to get as many people in the squad. It's a top quality squad to be involved in - some of the best talent around."