Zola's got a Gud idea

Gianfranco Zola has revealed that West Ham are in the hunt for Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen

By JONATHAN CLEGG

Gianfranco Zola has revealed that West Ham are in the hunt for Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen as the Italian bids to boost his striking options.

The Hammers opened their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win

at Grays Athletic on Sunday as academy products Zavon Hines and Cristian Montano both hit the target.


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But Dean Ashton was a no-show against the non-league club after failing to recover from his long-term ankle injury.

The England striker, who has been out of action since September, has also missed this week's pre-season tour of Austria, increasing fears that he will not be ready for the start of the season.

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That leaves Carlton Cole as the only front-line forward at Zola's disposal and the Hammers boss is desperate to increase his side's firepower, with former Chelsea striker Gudjohnsen emerging as a leading target.

The Iceland international has dropped down the pecking order at Camp Nou and has been given permission to find a new club following a three-year spell with the Spanish giants.

But Zola admits that West Ham will face competition for the 30-year-old, with Fulham, Everton and Aston Villa all reportedly monitoring the situation.

Zola said: "Eidur is certainly a very, very good player. I am sure West Ham are not the only team who are looking for a good player like him.

"We are working this pre-season to spot what our weaknesses can be. Certainly we need to improve up-front and that is the majority of the job."

The Hammers manager used 22 players at the Essex outfit's New Rec ground, with first-team regulars James Collins and Junior Stanislas joined by Julien Faubert, who has returned from a loan spell at Real Madrid.

There were also encouraging run-outs for Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon, who made his first Hammers appearance in 18 months as a second-half substitute and impressed with a composed display at the heart of defence.

"Gabbidon has been out for quite a while and to see him on the pitch is very, very good. Also he looked sharp so I'm very pleased," Zola said ahead of the club's 10-day trip to Austria.

"Kieron did very well - I'm very pleased for him also. I was very happy - everyone came through which is good because we have only had one week of hard training and this is still very early in pre-season.

"I am pleased with how the young players did and they had lots of confidence. It is very encouraging."

First-team stars such as Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and new signing Luis Jimenez have joined the squad for this week's 10-day trip to Austria, which Zola insists will have a major impact on the club's Premier League campaign.

He said: "These 10 days are very important because we're looking to improve the bonding of the team, the fitness condition and everything. These 10 days will be vital for us.

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