Manager on Monday

Avram Grant has been pleased to see his senior England players move to the fore in recent days - although has admitted he could do without losing them for next week's international friendly.

After the weekend win at Ipswich Town, the manager was most effusive in his praise for Robert Green, with the shot-stopper unquestionably the man of the match at Portman Road. Despite the predictable terrace taunts for the former Norwich City No1, Green stood firm and was more than equal to everything thrown his way.

"Rob Green is a fantastic goalkeeper," the manager said. "I didn't know him before but he has a strong mentality. Of course when you are playing away some of the supporters are against you. He knows how to do his job, he is not a child. I think you saw him cope. The best answer of football players is on the pitch, not to the media."

Talking of the media, Carlton Cole's name is beginning to be mentioned in dispatches for the international date against Hungary on Wednesday week at Wembley. The striker has scored four goals in just 270 minutes of the 450 played by the club this summer - a strike rate of one every 67 minutes. He has certainly been a key man in all five friendly wins.

"Carlton Cole is working very hard," the manager added of a forward who was left out by Fabio Capello from even his provisional plans for the FIFA World Cup just gone despite a strong finish to the last campaign. "His attitude is good. He is a good player. Against Ipswich, he was in the right place at the right time again.

"I think the new system has helped him. We also have a team that know how to play football so they can give him the pass at the right time. If you look at all the goals we have scored this summer, all the goals came from combinations between many players in the team. Of course it is good for him."

Scott Parker is another who may well be in with a chance for England contention, after just missing the final cut for South Africa. His club manager, who was joined on the bench by new assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic, simply refused to be drawn on considering anything other than the two-time Hammer of the Year remaining a long-term fixture at the club.

"We have plans for next season but also beyond that, there is a vision at the club. I want to put West Ham in a good place, playing good football. He is a big important part of that. We have made it very clear that Scott Parker will stay with us."

Grant may lose Parker for a few days, though, ahead of the big Barclays Premier League kick-off on Saturday 14 August, with that Hungary match. He is not alone in questioning the timing. "It is not good for the team that four days before the season starts you cannot practice with all the players."

The unquestioned England talent within the ranks has been supplemented superbly already by Thomas Hitzlsperger's instant impact in midfield, and the Hammers were bolstered by two other debutants in Pablo Barrera and Frederic Piquionne at Ipswich. Both came off the bench and looked lively, given their relative lack of match action.

"Finally Freddie got his clearance so he could play his first game for 30 minutes and it was good for his first game. The movement was good, he is a good player for us. He is a quick player and he will score goals. For Pablo, even though he has not played much, it was important for him to experience the atmosphere in England.

"They are good players and they'll be good for us. We are pleased with them."

The positive mood was understandable, given that the team are on a run of five wins from five. Grant was happy with that but stressed it was not just about the results.

"It's always good to win. We want to have this mentality at this club but it's more important that the players will understand the tactics and be in a better physical condition. Slowly, slowly and step by step we are reaching our targets."

Grant will again be working with the owners to identify new targets in the coming days but reiterated that fresh faces would only arrive if they were an improvement on those already in place.

"We are trying to always improve the squad. It is good to have competition for places. There is a good team here now but we will always look for players to make the squad better."

That said, he is also ready and willing to blood those from the youth ranks - a key selling point for him when joining the club earlier in the summer and also a positive given the league's new rules on homegrown talent. "One of the reasons I came to West Ham is that our vision for the club is to have players from the Academy.

"We have a very good Academy and we want talented young players. This is part of the vision for this club."