West Ham will be without England pair Carlton Cole and Matthew Upson for Saturday's Barclays Premier League home match against Manchester United at Upton Park.

Striker Cole is set to be out until the end of January with a knee ligament injury sustained in the Hammers' 5-3 win against Burnley last weekend, while centre-back Upson has not fully recovered from a hamstring strain.

Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami is missing with a knee injury while a muscle strain sidelines Luis Jimenez.

Alessandro Diamanti is back from a hip complaint and is in contention but Mark Noble is a doubt with a virus.

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is confident the loss of Cole to injury will not derail his side as they look to maintain their strong recent run.

Cole, 26, is the club's top scorer in the league this season with seven goals and West Ham will now be relying on Mexico striker Guillermo Franco, as well as fellow forwards Zavon Hines and the fit-again Diamanti, to hit the net over the festive period and into 2010.

Zola has seen confidence return to his side, who have climbed out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone after losing just one of their last six league matches.

And the Italian is backing them to overcome the absence of the talismanic Cole, arguably the team's key player, when title-chasing United visit Upton Park.

"I see this as an opportunity now to find other ways to keep the goals coming," said Zola

"I think we'll like finding other solutions. And what's encouraging as that in the last few games against the top teams, we've done well and they've been close games.

"I know we're playing Manchester United, but you need to see the positive side of it. They are a great team and the champions, but they're not unbeatable and it's down to us to exploit their weaknesses."

Having beaten Aston Villa, drawn with Arsenal and lost only narrowly to Tottenham and Liverpool already this season, Zola insists he is relishing the visit of another of the league's big guns.

"I have no concerns as I think my team will play well," he added.

"The pressure is on Manchester United - they have to win to chase Chelsea. Not many people are expecting anything from us and it is these kind of conditions where you can find surprises.

"We have a good tradition (against United). It's not an easy task but that's why I like to play games like this."

Edwin van der Sar is set to return to the Manchester United line-up.

The veteran Dutchman has missed three games since injuring his knee in a collision with Everton's Tim Cahill at Old Trafford a fortnight ago but has now recovered and is expected to replace Tomasz Kuszczak.

Jonny Evans (calf) and John O'Shea (dead leg) are still sidelined, along with long-term casualties Rio Ferdinand (back) and Owen Hargreaves (knee).

Paul Scholes has admitted he is dismayed by his performances this season - raising fresh question marks over the Manchester United midfielder's future.

Scholes celebrated his 35th birthday last month and remains one of the players Sir Alex Ferguson wants to set an example to the younger members of his squad.

With nine Premier League titles to his name, the midfielder has already achieved far more than most professionals could ever dream of.

However, while long-time team-mate Ryan Giggs continues to perform at the very highest level, Scholes feels his standards have dipped.

And, while he has not given any indication whether he would be open to a new contract when his current one expires in the summer, his words do not suggest a positive outcome.

"I wouldn't say I am playing some of my best football," he said.

"I don't always feel I am making as much of a contribution as I'd like to.

"I always preferred it when I was playing regularly and scoring a lot more goals. Now, it's different.

"I play once every two or three weeks and I can only hope to do well when I get the chance. I don't have a choice.

"Obviously, every player wants to play every week but I know now it can't always happen. I just have to be okay with that."

And as for his future?

"You do think about it. I'm not too sure.

"I'll just carry on with the way it it's going at the moment and we'll see what happens come the end of the season."

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#Arsenal
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#Tomasz Kuszczak
#Carlton Cole
#Matthew Upson
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#John O'Shea
#Edwin Van der Sar
#Chelsea
#Premier League
#Alex
#Valon Behrami
#Manchester United
#Tim Cahill
#Mark Noble
#Paul Scholes
#Everton
#Gianfranco Zola
#Aston Villa
#Owen Hargreaves
#West Ham United
#Jonny Evans
#Liverpool
#Zavon Hines
#Rio Ferdinand