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Page last updated at 19:20 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

Zola keen to keep West Ham stars

West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola
Zola is determined to retain the services of Craig Bellamy

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola has played down speculation that the club will be forced to sell their best players in the January transfer window.

The Hammers are facing financial problems after owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's bank, Landsbanki, went into receivership in October.

Craig Bellamy, Scott Parker and Matthew Upson are among those who have been linked with moves away from Upton Park.

But Zola said: "It's not true we want to sell our best players."

The Hammers - facing the prospect of a fresh Premier League and Football Association enquiry into conduct of the club over the Carlos Tevez affair - have already rejected bids from Manchester City for striker Bellamy and midfielder Parker.

Zola admitted in November that he intended to sell players in January, despite not being given any ultimatums by the club owners.

But the Italian paid tribute to his team, and Bellamy, for a fine performance in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Newcastle at St James' Park.


The Welshman scored against his former club, and Zola said: "If you see the way Craig moves about the pitch it is fantastic.

"He is an exemplary professional and he has performed very, very well - not only him but everybody.

"They (the players) are outstanding and I would say their performances have gone even higher in this period.

"Being a footballer I know it's not easy when you have so many words around you to concentrate and perform."

Zola has already indicated a preference to trim the Hammers' squad since succeeding Alan Curbishley in September.

Since the transfer window opened on 1 January, winger Matthew Etherington has joined Stoke City, while midfielder Lee Bowyer has moved to Birmingham City on loan.

However, defender Calum Davenport's proposed switch to Bolton Wanderers fell thorough.

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see also
Newcastle 2-2 West Ham
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Birmingham snap up Bowyer on loan
09 Jan 09 |  Birmingham
Fresh inquiry into Tevez affair
08 Jan 09 |  West Ham
West Ham closer to possible sale
17 Dec 08 |  West Ham
Bank crisis hits Hammers spending
08 Oct 08 |  West Ham
West Ham end shirt sponsor deal
12 Sep 08 |  West Ham
End of big spending at West Ham
09 May 08 |  West Ham

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