Upson's debt to Zola

Matthew Upson has spoken of the impact Gianfranco Zola has had on establishing him with England as he prepares for Wednesday night's home match with Andorra.

The centre-back has missed just one league game for the club since the manager's arrival and in so doing has played his way firmly into Fabio Capello's thoughts. As he looked forward to the prospect of his 16th cap with the FIFA World Cup qualifier at Wembley, Upson stressed how life at West Ham under Zola had raised his game.

"At international level it is important to be able to play with the ball. He works on that a lot and I have been trying to improve that every day. He and Steve Clarke have drilled that into us.

"Any transition period is difficult and the results weren't very clever when he [Zola] first came in. We tried a different system - he had to change a lot of things. But he stuck with it and came through in the end and I think we finished the season very positive with his squad and team, despite having a few injuries."

Upson added that he was encouraged by news of the club's stability for the coming season and the years to come, especially given the progress made so far under Zola. "It would be really nice to build on that. We have got the right man in charge.

"The manager has done an excellent job and it would be nice to see the new owners spending money and taking the team on.

"You can't stand still anymore. It's a very important period for the club. The manager has shown we've got something to offer but we have to build and improve the squad so it's a crucial time."

Having helped the club finish in ninth place and only just miss out on seventh and with it UEFA Europa League qualification, Upson was upbeat about the future. He was also boosted by being able to play more games than ever before in a single campaign - testament to the club's backroom staff.

"I think we can get into Europe. I think if we'd kept going [in 2008/09], kept the momentum we could have got in but in the future we can do it."