Green 'machine' earns praise

Gianfranco Zola has hailed his West Ham United and England goalkeeper Robert Green as a 'machine'.

The Hammers No1 has established himself as Fabio Capello's first-choice stopper in the national side, with Green helping England to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a 5-1 win over Croatia in midweek.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League defeat at Wigan Athletic, Zola praised the 29-year-old for the consistency he has shown since the manager's arrival a year ago.

"Robert looked very comfortable the other night against Croatia. He was completely into it,. I am not surprised because I have been working with him for a year now and he is a player you can rely on. He is consistent and does so well for the team. You can rely on a player like him."

Zola believes Green, who has completed the Hammers' last 91 Premier League games, has what it takes to make himself Capello's long-term No1, forecasting that his goalkeeper's reliability could easily see him form part of England's starting lineup in South Africa next summer.

"Right now, it is all in his hands. If he keeps performing the way he is, week in and week out, then he can certainly be there. After the first couple of games I was here, Robert was like a machine. Above all, he has been very consistent.

"Plus he is a man who likes working, and spends so much time staying late after training on fitness work or on his technique. He is determined to improve and that is good for him."

While Green has flourished under Capello, Zola revealed that he too had called upon the wisdom of his fellow countryman since taking charge at the Boleyn Ground on 11 September 2008.

Having played against Capello's great AC Milan side many times during his time with Parma, Zola has seen first-hand the 63-year-old's management skills.

"Capello is a player who can really get the best out of every single player. I played against his teams a few times but I never played for his team. He was just about to come to manage Parma but then he went to AS Roma instead.

"He is a manager who is respected everywhere and has got results everywhere he has been and so he has all my admiration and respect.

"He is one of the managers who, if you can ask them something, the answer will be worthwhile. I have a good relationship with him and I have spoken to him a couple of times and he's been very helpful, so it's good."