Zola thanks travelling fans

Gianfranco Zola has thanked the West Ham United fans who made the long trip to Austria to see the team play Werder Bremen only for the game to be cancelled.

The West Ham United manager and his squad were disappointed the friendly on Saturday against the German Cup holders was called off because of a waterlogged pitch. Taking time out from preparations for Wednesday's match against Turkish side Bursaspor, he wanted to relay a message of thanks to those that had travelled from England.

"I was very sorry for our supporters," he said. "I know that many came to see us and it was a shame that we could not play the match for them, as they had made all that effort to watch us. I would like to thank them still for coming over and just say sorry that the match could not happen.

"We were also disappointed, because we were going to be up against a good team, it would have been a good test for us. We wanted to play, they [Werder Bremen] wanted to play, but the conditions stopped us."

Persistent rain meant the pitch was declared unplayable and the decision was made just a couple of hours before kick-off to cancel the match, which would have been West Ham's second of their pre-season tour in the country. The team had drawn 1-1 against Austrian side SVL Flavia Solva on the previous Wednesday.

But the manager and players put the extra time to good use and got back straight on to the training pitch. Instead of taking on Bremen, the squad due to play, including new signing Luis Jiminez, got stuck into a ten-a-side practice match. Recently arrived internationals Matthew Upson, Robert Green and Carlton Cole were also involved.

Zola and first-team coach Kevin Keen also joined them on the pitch, while Steve Clarke looked on and reserve team manager Alex Dyer, was referee. Zola stressed that it was important for the players to have a tough session after the cancellation, and the players responded with a few tackles flying in exactly four weeks before the start of the new Barclays Premier League season.

The manager added: "It was vital that we didn't stand still, so once we knew the match was off, we arranged a session in which we played a match ourselves. Myself and Kevin got stuck in too, it was a lively game."

The only players not involved in the session were Danny Gabbidon, Kieron Dyer and Jack Collison, who were rested after playing in last week's 1-1 draw against Flavia Solva. Scott Parker also sat out after only returning to full training at the start of the week and Valon Behrami was on the touchline continuing his rehab work.

With the addition of three more players joining up with the squad in Mark Noble, James Tomkins and Jonathan Spector who flew in on Sunday, Zola is looking forward to having his whole squad getting more match action.

"We have two more matches, which will be very important for us. We need to play these - the fitness is good but we want to put this into more matches. It is great to see Scotty Parker back on the training pitch, alongside Danny Gabbidon. We are in good shape, so we're very pleased."