Zola determined to stave off suitors

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Craig Bellamy heads a list of 'untouchables' in the West Ham squad that manager Gianfranco Zola is determined not to sell during the transfer window.

Bellamy and midfielder Scott Parker have already been the subject of a double-bid from Manchester City, reported to be worth £20million, that was rejected by the Hammers.

Zola is offloading some of his fringe players - Matthew Etherington was sold to Stoke with others set to follow - but asked whether some members of the squad are untouchable he replied: "Of course I have some players I consider very important for the club and the club knows that. We want to keep those players and Bellamy is one of them."

England defender Matthew Upson is also a potential target for West Ham's Barclays Premier League rivals but Zola is anxious not to sell.

The Italian hopes his close relationship with Bellamy will persuade the Welsh striker to stay at Upton Park.

And he has told Upson and Parker, who are both looking to cement their places in the England squad, that he can make them better players.

"I have a very, very good relationship with Craig," he added. "I respect him because he is a perfect professional and I like it when somebody is determined to improve and he has shown that attitude since I came here.

"That is the best a manager can expect from a player and I believe and I hope that he trusts me and respects me for what I am trying to do with him.

"I want him to score and to perform for the team and for myself. At the same time we believe we are offering our players the possibility to improve, to get better and better.

"It will be a very good thing for the club and for me if he stays. We want to take the team to a better level. He can play a big part in helping us to achieve that and he knows that."

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Matthew Upson
Stoke City
Scott Parker
Manchester City
Craig Bellamy
Matthew Etherington
Gianfranco Zola
West Ham United

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