Manager on Monday

Gianfranco Zola may still have an FA Cup fifth-round tie to contend with but he will switch attention back to the Barclays Premier League this week and the trip to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

With Manchester City losing at Portsmouth in the one league fixture played at the weekend, West Ham United preserved their hold on eighth place. A victory at the Reebok Stadium would give Zola's men every chance of moving up to seventh and possibly closing the gap on sixth-placed Everton - the team who will block the way to the FA Cup semi-finals should Middlesbrough be overcome in Tuesday week's cup replay.

The manager has been boosted by some positive injury news around Carlton Cole, with initial fears over his ankle injury suffered early in Saturday's 1-1 draw in the first meeting with Boro proving unfounded. A positive X-ray on Sunday showed no fracture and, ahead of an MRI scan to come, it is hoped the sprain could lead to only a two-week absence at worst.

The news is not so good for Luis Boa Morte, who may be missing for up to a month with a groin strain that caused him to be substituted soon after the interval on Saturday. However, Valon Behrami is expected to be back for the trip to Bolton while Radoslav Kovac is also pushing for his first appearance in claret and blue and will benefit from another week's training after his midweek international exertions.

Also high in the manager's thoughts is Savio, with the 19-year-old proving more than lively after his appearance off the bench - especially in providing the free-kick for Herita Ilunga to head the equalising goal. Zola said the new recruit is "learning quickly and ahead of schedule" although reiterated the claim on the first made on the exciting forward's unveiling last month that "he needs time".

"He has been playing in a second division team in Italy," Zola added. "I see he has good qualities but he needs time to settle. The game here is such you can't even imagine the difference in speed to Serie B in Italy. The best is to come from him. When he came on, he made a difference so I am sure that is going to be a big boost for him."

Ilunga also received special praise. "He is a very good player. His character is unbelievable. He has played all the games and he is always manages to get something out of them. I am very pleased with him. He is a very good signing for us. He doesn't speak much English but it is not down to the language. It is just the way he is. He doesn't speak very much but he is one of those people that acts more than he talks."

The left-back has committed his long-term future to the club and the manager stressed how significant a lift it has been to see the commitment shown by senior players such as Scott Parker, who agreed a new contract until 2013 last week, in line with his own faith in the future direction at the Boleyn Ground. "There are players that have been very important this season on and off the pitch.

"They are the core of this team and I believe they can be the core of this team for a long time. The club knows this and they are offering them contracts and they deserve that. It is good for stability. They are positive players and they will help us to build something important. Hopefully soon Lucas Neill will be signing a contract.

"Things are going well here we just need to understand that we want this to be for a long time. The idea is to make a blend of experienced players and young talented players to mix together and perform. The club has been fantastic this year. In difficult times, in difficult moments - such as when the team wasn't doing well and people kept talking badly about the club - the club kept their composure. They backed the team and support them all the time and now they are getting the reward for all the patience they had in those moments."