Cole ready for Toffees

Gianfranco Zola will welcome Carlton Cole back into his West Ham United squad for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Everton.

The England striker has been in full training for the past week after recovering from the groin injury he suffered during the national team's 4-0 friendly victory over Slovakia at Wembley on 28 March.

Having missed West Ham's last eight league matches, Zola was delighted to be able to announce the return of his eleven-goal top scorer for this weekend's clash with David Moyes' FA Cup finalists.

However, the manager revealed that he has yet to decide whether the 25-year-old will start at Goodison Park.

"Carlton is doing very well. He will be in the squad. He is fit and it's good news for us. He might start the game. We will decide on Friday about that but he is definitely in the squad."

There is also good news on Danny Gabbidon with the defender hoping to make a return to full training next week, while Kieron Dyer has stepped up his work after a hamstring injury but is more likely to play in the final game of the season at home against Middlesbrough. It remains to be seen whether Scott Parker (groin) and James Collins (calf) will figure on Sunday week.

West Ham sit ninth in the Barclays Premier League standings following last Saturday's 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool, but victory on Merseyside could lift them back above Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur into seventh place. A top-seven finish would be enough to secure the Hammers a spot in next season's UEFA Europa League.

Zola, who won four European trophies as a player, believes the experience of playing in continental competition would be hugely beneficial for his players. However, the Italian believes his side need to pick up at least a point at Everton to realise that dream.

"Qualifying for Europe is very, very realistic if we can get six points out of the two games. I'm sure that's very possible. Four points might be enough but, to be sure, we want to get six.

"It is very important [to compete in Europe]. It is important in the sense that it will give the squad a big boost by playing in European competition. It will be great for all of my players."

While some Premier League managers have expressed concerns over the impact a European campaign may have on their Barclays Premier League form, Zola believes the experience of tackling different footballing cultures would be an invaluable one, particularly for the younger players within his squad.

"I realise that playing in Europe is a big thing because you have so many more games to play so that might be difficult for the club but we are willing to take the risk and would love to be involved in the competition [UEFA Europa League].

"I'd like to take the risk. Let me get to Europe and we'll see what we can do about that [any difficulties that arise]. For me, I see the positive side. Playing in Europe is a great thing not only for me but for the players and the supporters, so I'll take the risk.

"I'm positive in my players. There will be difficulties but I rely on my capacities and the team's capacities to find solutions when the problems come. So I want to put a task in front of me and I know if I have European competition it's a big task, but it will make me better and my players better."