Etherington pushing forward

Matthew Etherington is relishing being given the freedom to express himself in West Ham United's attack under Gianfranco Zola.

The last two back to back league wins have seen Etherington pushed forward from left wing to an advanced role alongside in-form duo David Di Michele and Carlton Cole. "It is really suiting me," said the 27-year-old after his assist and goal in the deserved 2-1 defeat of Fulham. "I am getting more involved in the game, I am not stuck out on the wing relying on the others in getting me the ball, and it is giving me a bit of freedom. Everyone is enjoying it."

Etherington is the club's longest serving player and has experienced plenty of highs - not least being named Hammer of the Year for 2003/04. This season is showing early signs of matching those heights and he is thriving in his new role and the new regime. "It has made me feel good. There's a few things in training, coaching one-to-one things we are doing and it's good. It makes you feel wanted and that's what a professional footballer wants."

He already has two goals from six league games, just one fewer than he managed in the whole of last season. The feelgood factor is high and but there is more to come as the team look to hold on to their lofty fifth position. "It's a great start, very good. We got a great result against Newcastle last week and now have followed on with this result. We are up there now and have got to make sure we stay up there now.

"We now look to next week's game and aim to get three points out of that as well," Etherington added, with an eye on the televised Sunday visit of Bolton Wanderers to the Boleyn Ground. "We were worthy of the three points [against Fulham] and were the better side."