Fully focused for Sunday

Gianfranco Zola says confidence is high in his West Ham United squad ahead of their first Barclays Premier League game of the decade at Aston Villa on Sunday.

With form improving and knowing a first 'double' of the season could potentially lift his side up to 13th in the table, Zola feels that it is everyone's responsibility to ensure the positive mood since the 1-1 draw with Chelsea in December remains in place.

"This team has turned the corner," Zola said. "After the Chelsea game the psychology of the team is totally different. We lost two games against Tottenham and Arsenal in the cup but in those games the team was alive. I think it will not be long before we start climbing the table again.

The West Ham manager is set to welcome back Jonathan Spector, Scott Parker, Jack Collison and Mark Noble to his matchday plans, while further cheer was provided by the news that Carlton Cole is edging ever closer to a return from his knee injury. The England striker and West Ham United's top scorer could be back in full training over the course of next week.

"It might be a surprise, I can't say exactly when. It is looking very good and next week he might be joining us in training. I told you that it might be sooner. He is running well with no pain and that is a good point."

Kieron Dyer is also making strides in his return from a muscle injury and remains as determined as ever to get back and help the Hammers continue their ascent up the table. "I spoke to him and he is looking to get back as quickly as possible. He is determined to help the team and these are crucial moments for us and he is prepared to give to us as far as I know.

"He is trying to get back to us from a muscle problem. The problem with him is that he has been out for a long time and since he came back he kept picking up small injuries in the muscles. W are trying to get it sorted and then it would be alright. I don't think it will be long time until he is coming back."

With the worst of the winter weather now apparently over, Zola was able to enjoy an uninterrupted week of training at Chadwell Heath.

"So far we have prepared the game very well. The team trained really really well and looked sharp. Today, I was commenting that the players are looking really focused and are determined to play a really good game and they will play a really good game."

Zola has ensured that everyone's concentration is only on what is needed at Villa Park. "The players are focused. The last year we have been talking so much about things going on at this club. I don't want any excuses from the players or anybody else.

"I have to push myself and the players to do the best we can in the situation. If we get through we will better players and managers. It is just that I cannot affect things that are not under my control. What can I do? I'm not going to bang my head against the wall because of that. I am going to fight."