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Zola doubts his own survival instinct but vows to fight on

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola admitted last night he has had doubts over his ability to save the club from relegation.

The rookie manager has found the job at Upton Park much tougher than he expected when he arrived to replace Alan Curbishley last season. West Ham head to Aston Villa tomorrow just one place outside the relegation zone and with uncertainty hanging in the air as the debt-ridden club attempt to find a new owner.

Zola's own future remains unclear following reports in Italy that he will be sacked if one of the interested parties, the Cagliari president Massimo Cellini, succeeds with his £100m bid.

Despite all that, Zola's determination remains unbroken.

"I am going to fight," the Italian vowed.

"It is normal that when things are not going in the right direction you doubt what you are doing. But then I go back in my history and I say: 'Franco, you have been in so many difficult situations' and I have always come through and I rely on that.

"No matter what comes against me, I am going to come through and bounce back. I have no doubt. The Hammers travel to Villa Park without a senior striker after Guillermo Franco joined Carlton Cole, Luis Boa Morte and Kieron Dyer on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has shrugged off lingering fears over the fitness of striker Emile Heskey ahead of tomorrow's Premier League clash at home to West Ham.

Heskey was taken off as a precaution with a slight hamstring problem during the first leg of Villa's Carling Cup semi-final win over Blackburn on Thursday.

That was the second time it has happened recently, but O'Neill insisted Heskey's fitness is not a major cause for concern.

"Emile came off again against Blackburn with a tight hamstring to prevent any further damage," said O'Neill. "But he is now not feeling too bad.

"I think that sometimes in the case of Emile, when you haven't played for a little while, there is a possibility that the hamstrings are tight. It is something that a few players have complained about recently.

"But Emile in particular was suffering from it and there was no point in risking him."

ASTON VILLA v WEST HAM,

Tomorrow, Live Sky Sports 1 (KO 1.30)


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