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Cole eyes a goals boost

PUBLISHED: 10:51 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG CARLTON COLE might be the most improved player at Upton Park over the past year – but the West Ham striker believes he is capable of making further progress under Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola. Cole has undergone a dramatic transformatio

By JONATHAN CLEGG

CARLTON COLE might be the most improved player at Upton Park over the past year - but the West Ham striker believes he is capable of making further progress under Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola.

Cole has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last 12 months, earning the respect of the club's supporters, who used to jeer his arrival from the substitutes bench.

With four goals in eight appearances already this season, the in-form forward has emerged as a key player for the Hammers and has shown signs of finally developing a more clinical touch in front of goal, prompting Zola to talk up his England credentials last month.

But the 24-year-old, who has scored in each of the past two games, insists he can further increase his scoring record and become a deadlier finisher - after revealing that he has been hobbled by ankle injuries during his impressive recent run.

Cole suffered a knock to his left ankle in last month's home victory against Newcastle but played through the pain to score a crucial goal in the 2-1 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

And despite suffering a freak injury to his right ankle the following week, Cole again took his place in the starting line-up against Bolton, scoring West Ham's sole goal in a 3-1 defeat at Upton Park.

The striker has since been working with the club's medical staff to shake off the nagging injuries - and he is confident he will be a better player when he regains peak fitness.

He said: "I've been playing with an injury during the last two games. I already had an ankle injury and [on the day before playing Bolton] I turned over on my other ankle so I've had a bit of bad luck.

"I first did it against Newcastle at Upton Park and I was lucky to be playing against Fulham the following week but I got a goal.

"I shouldn't have been playing [against Bolton] really but the medical staff have been quality and they got me on track and I was happy to play.

"Hopefully I can get my ankle right and I'll get more goals in our next games."

Cole knows that he could be in line for more hard knocks when West Ham travel to Hull on Sunday, with the former Chelsea striker expecting a physical encounter at the KC Stadium.

But he believes the Hammers can bounce back from defeat against Bolton and predicts that the squad's superior skill will shine through.

He said: "Obviously they're a physical side but we just need to counteract that with the qualities that we've got.

"We know they're in good form at the moment, they did well against Spurs so we know they're a good outfit and they're going to be solid.

"We just need to break them down and I think we can go up there and get a result because we've got good talent.

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