Suspended Cole insist Hammers can maintain Euro charge

Carlton Cole insists his West Ham team-mates can maintain the club's European challenge while he serves a two-match suspension

By JONATHAN CLEGG

Carlton Cole insists his West Ham team-mates can maintain the club's European challenge while he serves a two-match suspension for his controversial red card at Wigan.

Cole crowned a slick passing move with a sumptuous finish to score the winner at the JJB Stadium and keep the Hammers on track for a place in next season's UEFA Cup, which will be rebranded as the Europa League.

But the England forward's wonder-strike was overshadowed by his controversial first-half dismissal by referee Stuart Atwell, who showed Cole a second marginal yellow card for raising his foot as Emmerson Boyce stooped to head the ball.


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The red card was Cole's second sending-off this season and he will now miss West Ham's matches against West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers this month.

But after watching his colleagues hold out for a vital win at Wigan, the 25-year-old is convinced the Hammers can keep picking up points in his absence and cement the club's grip on seventh place in the Premier League.

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He said: "I am so sad I can't play in the next two games. I don't know what the referee saw because I didn't do anything malicious.

"It was backs against the wall for us [afterwards] but the boys played brilliantly. They dug in and we held on to the lead.

"The performance at Wigan showed the grit we have got, the teamwork. We are going places and hopefully we can just keep on going to the end of the season and see where it gets us."

West Ham's teamwork was clearly demonstrated in the build-up to Cole's 11th goal of the season, which showcased the swift inter-passing that has become the hallmark of the side under manager Gianfranco Zola.

Scott Parker slid the ball into David Di Michele, who produced a deft backheel to exchange passes with Mark Noble, before playing in Cole, who curled an unstoppable shot past Chris Kirkland.

Cole said: "It was a well-taken goal but the build up play to it was fantastic. We won the ball on the halfway line, there was some quick, one-touch passing and I was on the end of it. I didn't realise how good the goal was until I saw the replay.

"Everyone has gelled together and is on the same wavelength. The goal is an example of how the team is cooperating with each other and I am so happy that things are falling into place.

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