Cole tipped to shine

Gianfranco Zola has backed Carlton Cole to return from international duty firing on all cylinders.

Cole has been the spearhead of Zola's West Ham United side so far this season, scoring a memorable goal against Tottenham Hotspur and helping the Hammers to attain positive results against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Millwall and Blackburn Rovers.

The 25-year-old also put in an action-packed display for England in the 2-2 friendly draw in the Netherlands earlier this month.

However, after playing three matches in the space of six days, the manager admitted his England striker was not at his best as Saturday's hard-fought goalless draw at Ewood Park, approached its conclusion.

Cole is again part of Fabio Capello's squad for the friendly international with Slovenia on Saturday and FIFA World Cup qualifier against Croatia on Wednesday week, both of which will be played at Wembley.

Zola expects his No1 forward to be a potent threat for both club and country over the coming weeks and months.

"In the first half at Blackburn he was bright and he was dangerous, but in the second half, obviously, he didn't have the same standard because of the games he has played during the week.

"You know, with Carlton, I am always really demanding because I know he can do much better than this, but it is okay. He was alright and I'm sure he'll be a player who will perform very well for us this year."