Parker signs on as Hammers look to tie down trio
West Ham are closing in on long-term contracts for Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Lucas Neill
By JONATHAN CLEGG
West Ham are closing in on long-term contracts for Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Lucas Neill as the club look to secure the futures of their leading players.
Scott Parker became the latest Hammers star to sign a contract extension last week when the 28-year-old put pen to paper on a new deal which keeps him at Upton Park until the summer of 2013.
The England midfielder was the subject of interest from Manchester City during the January transfer window, while Green, Upson and Neill also attracted interest last month.
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But Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola is optimistic that the trio will follow Parker's example by committing their futures to the club as the Italian looks to keep hold of the spine of his team.
"There are players that have been very important this season - people like Matthew Upson, Robert Green, Scott Parker and Lucas Neill. They are the core of this team and I believe they can be the core of this team for a long time," Zola said.
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"The club know this and are offering them contracts. It is good for stability. They are positive players and will help us to build something important. The idea is to make a blend of experienced players and young talented players to mix together and perform."
Parker became the fifth Hammers star to agree a new contract this year following similar deals for Dean Ashton, Carlton Cole, Herita Ilunga and Jack Collison.
He revealed that the team's progress under boss Zola convinced him to extend his spell at Upton Park.
"I am very happy, pleased and excited - especially after all the speculation in the transfer window - that I can now put that to rest and sign a new long-term contract.
"The way the club is going and the direction that the manager and the board want to go is something I want to follow.
"The manager showed a real desire to keep me. He sees me as a massive part of the squad and that meant a lot to me - I am delighted to sign.