Manager on Monday

Gianfranco Zola will have the luxury of having a strong squad this week with fit-again players, international returnees and new recruits all training together fully.

The manager has plenty to ponder after a 1-0 reverse at Wigan Athletic at the weekend that saw his team get scant reward for some sustained pressure and notable chances including a clever late effort from the livewire Alessandro Diamanti. Although most neutrals felt his side deserved better, Zola said there were issues to be dealt with - especially the need for concentration.

"That is the most difficult thing," he said, thinking back to the second-half winner from Hugo Rodallega that saw the Wigan forward react quickest to a loose ball inside the penalty area despite the heroics of Robert Green in goal. "It is the last bit you need to improve as a player and the most difficult bit. We are going to work on it.

"After the first half I thought we were going to do better. This is not the first time but we are going to work hard during the week, we need to improve."

Reflecting as well on the home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur last month that also saw two goals conceded in sloppy fashion, Zola was determined to see his players learn the lessons. He said: "In those moments we have to raise our attention.

"This is the second game [this season] that we have lost for mistakes, but I don't want to point it out now as I want to have a look again and be more accurate in what I am saying. Certainly we have to improve as if you look at the game we never conceded anything to them.

"We were maybe lethargic in the second half but not when we started the match. The first half we were in control of the game and we looked good. That is something that I have to consider carefully.

"I don't want to point out one part of the pitch - defence, midfield or attack. When we come back from the first half into the second, the attention should be higher."

In a week that marks the year anniversary of the day he first arrived as West Ham United manager at Chadwell Heath, Zola said, whatever the ups and downs of results on a match by match basis, he believed that overall things were on track.

That was especially with homegrown Hammers continuing to come through the ranks, with four starting on Saturday including Zavon Hines on his full debut. The manager reiterated that the 20-year-old forward had impressed. He added: "We are on the right line. There is a lot of work to do. We are keen to progress and the players and I want to do that.

"There have been some very good moments and some bad, especially at the beginning, but we have always kept our composure throughout the year and I am pleased for the team doing that."

More help could come this week with Herita Ilunga thought to be in contention to face Liverpool, having already returned to full training. The left-back has not figured since the opening day with a jaw injury, while Valon Behrami's return from six months out and Diamanti's debut off the bench at Wigan should have increased their respective chances of starting on Saturday evening.

It remains to be seen whether Jack Collison, a late withdrawal on Saturday, along with Kieron Dyer and Luis Jimenez will also be able to play after muscle problems but all are thought to have a chance of figuring. Aside from Luis Boa Morte (knee) and Dean Ashton, who has no date set for his return after exactly 12 months out with an ankle injury, the manager should have extra options.

"There is a bit of work to do this week," said Zola. "We have a difficult game against Liverpool but we should have the whole squad and that will make a big difference to me."

A reserve encounter at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday may also give him an opportunity to see more of his squad in action with the likes of Fabio Daprela and Manuel Da Costa eager to stake their first-team claims.

There could also be a new attacking recruit in the mix and while he knows the season is still in its infancy and that three points could propel his team into the top half in an instant, Zola is determined to see a speedy response from his players. "We need to get things going as quick as possible," he said.