Zola steeled for Stoke

Gianfranco Zola has backed his players to make amends for the disappointment of midweek when they take on Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.

"We are a good team," he said. "We are going through a difficult moment. Circumstances haven't helped us but we need to make sure we show everybody that we are a good team. Saturday is a good opportunity and we are going to do our best."

The manager will be without James Tomkins and Guille Franco after knocks suffered in the 3-1 reverse against Wolves on Tuesday but has Danny Gabbidon, Kieron Dyer and Manuel da Costa, after a three-match ban, available.

"I am going to keep my head down and focus on the job. We are not happy with the situation and the position we occupy but I can assure everyone that we are trying hard and we care. Even in difficult conditions we are trying to find the focus and the concentration to do a good job."

Zola refuted suggestions his players were not up for the fight but conceded work was required to make sure words were put into practice. "I don't think they didn't play with passion. They were trying to sort the situation but more like individuals.

"I don't think there is one person in my squad who is not committed to what we are trying to achieve. We will work on that and hopefully on Saturday the effort will be as a team."

He also fully expected the fans to back the team, saying "they have tried to help us" throughout the season and that he had "no complaints" about the support. Instead he acknowledged it was up to his men to give them something back, to give them a winning performance.

"It is a very important game, we have to win. Everybody at the club is focused on winning the game. We have to win the game as a team. It is the most important thing. Honestly, trust me everyone wants to give 200 per cent but it has to be in the right way."

Zola said he would not shirk his responsibilities. "If I do well, then a lot of things can happen in a good way for the future," he said, but admitted that he was only thinking about the present rather than what might be.

"We know the difficulty of the game on Saturday. We know that we will have to produce a fantastic performance. Let's just play football and put in a good performance and make it enjoyable for everybody.

"That is why I am here and that is what I am paid to do. At the end of the day we are here and trying to win for West Ham. I think that is the only thing that matters.

"It doesn't work to look ahead. You have to take it step by step. Stoke is a massive game and the games we play after will be affected by what we do. Let's crack on and the rest will follow."