Premier League

Zola admires Upson's attitude

Hammers boss hoping to match defender's ambition

Upson: World Cup dreams

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West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola has welcomed the ambition displayed by Matthew Upson of late.

The centre-half recently warned the Hammers that he may need to leave the club over the summer, should they fail to secure European football, in an effort to keep his international ambitions alive.

The 29-year-old is desperate to be part of Fabio Capello's England plans for the 2010 World Cup and knows he must be playing at the highest possible level in order to be involved.

The revelation would have been expected to come as a shock to Zola, whose side remain on course for a Europa League place, but the Italian coach insists he is happy to see one of his key men looking to be the best he can possibly be.

"What Matthew said doesn't concern me. In fact, it motivates me even more because if a player like Matthew Upson is saying something like that, he is pushing everyone in the right direction," he said.

"I admire people like that. In life you have to be ambitious, you have to look forward all the time. Matthew Upson has that attitude and I like it.

Incredible

"That is the kind of ambition that makes the player and the manager better. Matthew Upson has been incredible. He is one of the players we will rely on a lot in the future.

"We will talk to him and see that he can be happy staying here. I am the first one to believe that if a player is happy in what he is doing he performs much more."

While Zola is looking for Upson to play an integral role in the Hammers' run-in, he is also hoping that injury-ravaged striker Dean Ashton will be welcomed back into the fold before the end of the season.

"He would have made a big difference to us this year. He can give us something extra, especially with goals. We are looking forward to having him back soon," said Zola.

"It would be fantastic if he could maybe play a game or two before the end of the season. It would be really great not only for him but for the supporters and for the club.

"His finishing is amazing. This team's build-up is very good. Maybe we lack a little bit of finishing which is something Dean Ashton has in his blood so he would be the perfect player for us."