Cole getting closer

Gianfranco Zola is looking forward to welcoming back Carlton Cole with the England striker's return from injury said to be going well.

The 26-year-old has been out of action since injuring his knee in the 5-3 victory over Burnley on 28 November, but Zola revealed the club's top-scorer could be back with the squad later this month. He has been stepping up his recovery programme, and has been out on the Chadwell Heath pitches in recent days.

"His recovery is vital," said Zola, with Guillermo Franco suffering a muscle injury in training that looks set to keep him out for the next couple of matches. "He is such an important player, not only in terms of goals and what he gives to the team, but it would be a big boost for the others. I look forward to seeing him playing soon with us."

"They're talking about towards the end of the month but we'll see. We're not putting pressure on him. We want him, when he comes back, to be fit for the whole season and for the World Cup, hopefully."

Another matter occupying Zola's thoughts is possible arrivals during the January transfer window. However, the manager had been keen to stress his sole focus this week was securing victory over Wolves until the match was called off due to health and safety concerns. "We are looking for something but I don't want to talk too much about it. We'll see what happens."