Europe is the target for Zola
Gianfranco Zola has set his sights on guiding West Ham into Europe next season
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Gianfranco Zola has set his sights on guiding West Ham into Europe next season after back-to-back wins strengthened the club's hold on seventh place in the Premier League.
The Hammers recorded a second win in the space of three days after overcoming Wigan in a fiery clash at the JJB Stadium last week, though Zola's side remain six points adrift of Everton in sixth position.
But a top-seven finish could still earn a berth in next season's UEFA Cup, which will be rebranded as the Europa League.
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Now Zola is determined to crown his debut campaign as West Ham manager by keeping the Hammers ahead of the chasing pack and ending the club's three-year European exile.
He said: "We know it is not an easy achievement [to qualify for Europe] but we are there, so why not?
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"We are ambitious, the players are enthusiastic and they are getting better and better. Now we want to improve day by day and we want go for Europe - that is our target."
Zola received a significant boost this week with the news that Jack Collison could be back in action next week, dispelling fears that he had suffered a serious knee injury against Wigan.
The 20-year-old midfielder collapsed after twisting his knee on Wednesday night but scans have revealed that he suffered only a slight strain and Collison could now return for the club's trip to Blackburn next weekend.
But midfielder Valon Behrami looks likely to miss the start of next season after the Swiss international was ruled out for six months with a cruciate ligament injury.