Cole eyeing Norwich goal

Carlton Cole is looking to mark his 150th start in a West Ham United shirt with victory at Norwich City on Saturday.

With Andy Carroll set to miss the Barclays Premier League trip to Carrow Road with a hamstring injury, the No9 is expected to be drafted back into the starting line-up by manager Sam Allardyce.

Cole, who received a rapturous ovation when he replaced Carroll in the 3-0 home win over Fulham last time out, is determined to mark his latest milestone with a third victory in four league games to start the new season.

"We've obviously had a little break and those of us not involved with our national teams have been in training and have also had a couple of days off to unwind and get focused for the big week we have got ahead of us," he explained.

"The manager has been on us this week to get fit and make sure we're at the top of our game for the trip to Norwich.

"I know we did well in our last game and the boys want to crack on again, but sometimes you need that mental break to sit back and re-assess what you have done.

"We know what we have got to do. Our last away game wasn't very good at Swansea City so this week we're focusing on how we're going to prevent Norwich from being a threat and also how we're going to be a threat to them and try to score goals."

While many strikers would feel threatened by the arrival of an international forward, Cole is experienced enough and wise enough to know that Carroll's presence can only benefit the club he has served for the past six seasons.

The top scorer in each of the previous four seasons took to social networking website twitter to welcome the new No8 to the Boleyn Ground and is relishing the challenge of fighting for his place with his fellow England international.

"Every year, you have to have people challenging for places because it is healthy for the club. I'm a guy who believes in that and you could get complacent if you know you are going to play week-in, week-out.

"It's better to always be on your toes and I welcome a challenge like Andy Carroll because he is one of the best target men around in the Premier League and it's just going to reinvigorate me to be a better player."

Another new face who Cole was happy to see was midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who he previously lined up alongside in a claret and blue shirt during the unforgettable 'Great Escape' season of 2006/07.

"Yossi is a brilliant character and a great player as well - we all know that. He has finally come home and he's back where I believe he belongs. I played for a season with him before he went off to Liverpool but he was really influential around the players and the team.

"I was sad to see him leave so now he's back, I'm really happy."

Alongside Matt Jarvis, Matt Taylor, Mark Noble and Ricardo Vaz Te, Benayoun is just another creative player who Cole cannot wait to start working with on the pitch. Any striker thrives on great service and the No9 believes that quintet will provide plenty of inviting crosses and through balls for him to feed off.

"It's looking tasty! We've got a lot of players who can go forward and fit in. Vaz has started the season really well and has got three assists already and he'll get his goals too because once he starts scoring he won't stop.

"Everything is looking fruitful in and around the club and I'm very happy to be involved."

Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole has been enjoying some banter with captain Kevin Nolan

One thing Cole has been missing so far this season is a goal. Having finished the previous four campaigns as the club's top scorer and netted a vital strike in the npower Championship Play-Off final win at Wembley, the popular frontman wants to find the net again as soon as possible - if only to silence captain Kevin Nolan!

"I've been having banter with Nobby in the changing room already and he's already on me! Last year, we were bouncing off each other saying 'I've got more goals than you, so what are you going to do about it?'

"We just spur each other on with a bit of banter and every time I get the chance to play, whether it be with another striker or up front on my own, hopefully I'll get the chance to score and keep up with Nobby.

"He's a goal poacher and it's great for the club to have everyone pitching in."

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