Zola hails friendly affect

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The midweek international break may have irked some Premier League managers but West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola has hailed the positive impact it had on his players.

Arsene Wenger is likely ruing Theo Walcott's shoulder injury picked up on England duty and Rafael Benitez was reportedly unhappy at the treatment of Steven Gerrard after he withdrew from the squad with a groin problem.

But Zola was delighted with the impressive performances of Matthew Upson and Craig Bellamy in particular saying: "Normally it's a difficult week after internationals but my players all played good games in their teams."

Defender Upson scored England's first goal in the win over Germany and Bellamy grabbed the winner as Wales saw off Denmark, and Zola sees it as an injection of positivity to help the Hammers out of a rut.

Zola added: "Some of them like Bellamy and Upson got a goal as well so I hope they can take the enthusiasm from that midweek game to Sunderland, which is going to be very important for us.

"Matthew has been confident and full of smiles. It's good. The national team can be very important for the players.

"For him, it's even more important. He scored and I'm pretty sure he will play a great match (against Sunderland) on Sunday.

"It's good for (England manager Fabio) Capello as he has a lot of choices. It's important for Matthew that he has proved he can play instead of Rio (Ferdinand) and John Terry.

"He's an important player for us. He's experienced and has a lot of enthusiasm. The national team is great.

"In many ways it can help a player and it also helps his team-mates. To play alongside a national-team player is something good."

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Matthew Upson
John Terry
Craig Bellamy
Steven Gerrard
Gianfranco Zola
West Ham United
Theo Walcott

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