Luis Jimenez is the man to give Hammers a cutting edge, says Gianfranco Zola

Luis Jimenez can solve West Ham s lack of firepower by becoming a regular scorer from midfield this season, according to Gianfranco Zola

By JONATHAN CLEGG

Luis Jimenez can solve West Ham's lack of firepower by becoming a regular scorer from midfield this season, according to Gianfranco Zola.

The Hammers struggled for goals last season and are short of front-line strikers this year, with Carlton Cole the only fit first-team forward ahead of this weekend's Premier League opener at Wolves.

Boss Zola has admitted that he will be relying on West Ham's midfielders to give his side a cutting edge until the club complete their long-running search for forward reinforcements.


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And Jimenez has been tipped to make a major impact following a promising display in last weekend's 1-0 friendly defeat against Napoli.

The on-loan Inter Milan playmaker showed off his sharp passing and close control against the Italian opponents and almost broke the deadlock with a low free-kick that flashed across the face of goal.

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Zola believes the Chile international could emerge as a key player and weigh in with a vital haul of goals for the shot-shy Hammers.

He said: "Scoring goals from midfield is very important. We can not only rely on Carlton Cole scoring, we need to have more players that can provide some goals for us. That is something we're going to be working on.

"So far Jimenez has done well. He's certainly integrated into the squad very well, he's a wonderful boy and I'm expecting him to do what Di Michele did last year and possibly improve it."

The Hammers boss insists that Jimenez has so far shown only glimpses of his talent, adding that it will take time for the South American to recover his best form following a year of inactivity at Inter.

"I don't think so far anyone has seen Jimenez at his best because last year he went six months without playing," Zola said.

"He needs to keep up his condition. But the quality of the boy you can see is not in doubt and I'm sure he is going to be a really effective player for us."

Hammers star Mark Noble has also backed Jimenez to give the team a cutting edge by hitting the target regularly from midfield.

Noble said: "He's a really good player, a clever player, and he fits into our team well because we like to pass it, we like to do little interchanges.

"Hopefully, if we can get him on the ball a bit more and he can score us a few goals, we should have a good team this year.

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