Striking opportunity at Liverpool

Gianfranco Zola is "spoilt for choice" up front as West Ham United travel to take on a Liverpool side sweating on the fitness of Fernando Torres.

Spain striker Torres has been a thorn in the Hammers' side in the past, scoring twice in the 3-2 win at the Boleyn Ground last September and a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Anfield back in March 2008. There is real concern at Liverpool that he will not recover from a knee problem in time, with the Reds also looking to a UEFA Europa League semi-final at Atletico Madrid next Thursday.

Zola, who is without the suspended Scott Parker, meanwhile will pair Carlton Cole and Ilan up front, but also has the fit-again Mido, after a virus, Benni McCarthy and Guille Franco pushing for places on the substitutes' bench.

"We are spoilt for choice up front," Zola said on a sunny Saturday morning at Chadwell Heath. "We have everybody back and Mido is also fit again. It will give me the opportunity to have a choice which is always a good thing for a manager.

"Ilan has been doing very well. I am really impressed. The boy waited for his opportunity. He is using that now very well. He will start on Monday."

The manager said there was a "plan B" for getting to Liverpool should volcanic ash drifting over from Iceland mean the club are unable to fly on Sunday afternoon. Whether the team take to the air or the road, Zola will make sure they head north with a clear focus on the task facing them.

"Liverpool still have something in their bag to cause us problems. I know Torres is a big asset for them but to be honest I like David Ngog very much. I am sure he could be a problem any way. We don't have to really be thinking that if Torres doesn't play, it is a big advantage for us. We have to perform.

"What ever team they play they will always be a tough game for us. That is for sure. We need to make sure that first of all, we play a good performance and then we will also have to be a little bit lucky."

A win last time out against Sunderland and a 2-2 draw at Everton before that has raised morale at Chadwell Heath. Complacency is a danger with plenty of points still up for grabs. "Things are a little bit better but we have to keep focused because it is a championship where you can't really relax. The gap between the clubs at the bottom is very close. One bad game could cause a lot of problems."

With the Hammers on 31 points, the manager believed two wins from the final four games would make sure of survival. "Sometime ago we said 34 points could be enough. I don't know, I have got my doubts right now. It is still close. We will see. I would assume that to be completely safe 36 points would do it."

He was also not worried about playing on Monday night, after the relegation rivals had all been in action over the weekend. "It could be good for us to see what the others do. To be honest, I am not taking too much interest in that because you have to play and you have to perform well yourself. Really I am not giving that too much attention."