Zola wants positive start

Gianfranco Zola is expecting Wolverhampton Wanderers to adopt an up-and-at-them approach in Saturday's Barclays Premier League opener at Molineux.

The West Ham United manager has predicted that Mick McCarthy's side will be full of enthusiasm and commitment following their promotion to the top-flight as Coca-Cola Championship title winners.

"I expect them to be very aggressive and play with a lot of enthusiasm and with a lot of passion but, I hope, not with the same quality," said Zola.

"We know that they have come up and will want to show everybody that they are good enough for the Premier League and are up for the game.

"I expect them to try to press us and try to stop us from playing our football. That will be their main priorities, so we will have to be prepared for this, because if we manage to get around this, then we have a very good chance of winning."

Zola hopes to have a fully-fit squad to choose from, barring Dean Ashton and Valon Behrami, in the Midlands. Czech Republic midfielder Radoslav Kovac, who has joined the club on a permanent transfer from Spartak Moscow, is unlikely to receive international clearance in time to feature.

The club's band of internationals, including England stars Carlton Cole, Robert Green and Matthew Upson, have all returned from their midweek commitments unscathed and will take their seats on the coach to the Black Country.

While the manager has few concerns of his own, he is fully aware of the threat that may be posed by a hungry Wolves side brimming with confidence.

"It will be very difficult because when you play a promoted team at the beginning of the season they are full of enthusiasm," he added. "They will give everything.

"It will be like a cup final for them but I think we have got enough in the team - I am talking about experience and quality - that we can handle the situation."

Looking further ahead, Zola believes West Ham possess the quality to make another sustained bid to reach the UEFA Europa League this term.

With Cole in superb form for England, Behrami close to a comeback and the club's band of youngsters improving all the time, the manager is in a positive frame of mind.

"The aim is to improve what we did last year," he said. "We came very close last year. This year we have had the possibility to work from the very beginning so that should be an advantage.

"I also know the team still is not complete so hopefully someone will come and reinforce the team. I think we can improve the position we had last year and maybe push for the European spot.

"The players know that last year they have been so close. This year we are starting ideally in a better position and so they know it is the target. They are prepared for that.

"It is not an easy target but you have to be ambitious in life. If you go out and just play for just being happy it is not enough. I would like the team to challenge for a high position. Even if they look unreachable, you need to set your targets high and try everything you can. Then, if it doesn't happen at least you have tried."