'It is down to us'

Gianfranco Zola is confident his West Ham United team can achieve plenty in the future but knows they must first focus on beating Burnley today.

The Hammers have lost just once in their five games and have not been beaten by the Clarets in their last nine meetings. Burnley have also amassed just one point on their travels so far this season, so the form book would suggest a home win. However, Zola knows he cannot take anything for granted against a team that drew 3-3 at Manchester City and is calling on his players to prove their ability.

"It is down to us," Zola said. "What we want to be is down to us. Saturday is an important game. It might take us to a different level. Whether it is going to be avoiding relegation or challenging for Europe it is down to us.

"I believe in this team - it is a team that can be a very good team in the Premier League but we need to find a way to show everybody how good we can be.

"In my opinion we can reach a high level but as a manager of this team I believe we can reach champions for example. It is down to us to find those things on the pitch that will produce points and confidence that it will give us the strength to get there."

West Ham United have been beaten by more than one goal just once this season and Zola knows that with belief and a bit more fortune, the results their performances deserve will soon come.

"I think it is very important as when you go through this situation you start having doubts and that is what we are trying to tell the players that they are playing well and it is just a matter of time. I think it might be much worse if you are not playing well.

"It has to be a balance. Everybody has to sharpen up a little bit and also they have to keep confident as not everything they are doing is bad. It is finding a balance that will give them the confidence and the focus at the same time. I think Saturday will be another game for them to show that."

Zola may welcome back four key players in the shape of Herita Ilunga, James Tomkins, Mark Noble and Kieron Dyer to his squad, but must do without the injured Matthew Upson and Alessandro Diamanti for the visit of Owen Coyle's men.

It is hoped West Ham will not be without Upson for too long, but in his absence Zola confirmed Scott Parker would take the captain's armband. Danny Gabbidon, who impressed on the left side of defence at Hull City last time out, is expected to deputise in the middle with Ilunga coming back in on the left.

"It's disappointing for me to lose Matthew but what can I do? He's our captain and is important, I know that, but we have to work hard and to try and find some solutions. The good thing is that Danny Gabbidon was really good the other week and to have him back will be good for us.

"I think Matthew has a muscle problem. He had to wait 24 hours before we scanned him and we are waiting for the response. We should know something more on that on Saturday."

While things have been going well at the top end of the pitch, at the back West Ham have found keeping clean sheets somewhat harder. Zola rests the responsibility at tightening up defensively at the feet of his entire team rather than any particular position.

"This year we wanted to be more offensive as we are scoring more goals and we got it but we are not balancing the team well.

"We know we are leaking goals but I would like to think that it is not only a defensive problem but also the midfielders are not covering the defence as well. We know the problem and have been working all week to sort it out and on Saturday we will see some improvements."

West Ham United have shown their versatility this season by utilising a variety of different formations and the visit of Burnley, coupled with the return of the first-team quartet may allow Zola to tweak his system once more.

"We've changed the system. We didn't start with one system and play that system, we changed and adapted to situations. I'm not fanatical about one system and stick with it no matter what. We play 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 or 4-3-3. It depends on the players but we had to change or adapt. I don't mind changing if the players I have available are better in a different shape."

Indeed, Dyer's eye-catching return to action for the reserves in Tuesday's 5-2 home win over Stoke City, when he scored two, will have given Zola plenty to ponder ahead of the first-ever meeting with Burnley in the Premier League.

"When Kieron Dyer is fit he can give us something different. He is a quality player and he can give some good to your team. But first of all he has to be fit 100 per cent as what we don't want is to have setbacks.

"I don't think he will start. I don't want to put any pressure on him but he is doing very well but we will see. He is in the squad but we will see whether he will be on the bench or not."

If Dyer does figure in West Ham's first home 3pm kick-off of the season, it would be his fourth appearance of the season. The midfielder has worked tirelessly to get back to fitness following a year out with a broken leg and his manager is pleased to see him raring to go.

"He was determined to fight his way back. When he gets an injury it is depressing as you could imagine.

"It seems that he wants to be back and as far as we are concerned we are encouraging him to keep working and he just needs to break this negative coil that is keeping him there. This time he has come back and he looks bright and positive and that is very important."