Boss Zola steps up striker search after Franco blow

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola will up his search for a striker this week after Guillermo Franco picked up an injury in training.

Italian Franco was Zola’s only fit, recognised striker with Carlton Cole still suffering with a knee problem.

But the 33-year-old has suffered a muscular complaint and now faces at least three weeks on the sidelines.

Zola’s ex-Chelsea team-mate Eidur Gudjohnsen heads the Hammers’ wanted list, but Stoke’s James Beattie, Portuguese international Nuno Gomes and even ex-Hammer Marlon Harewood have also been touted.

The good news for Zola, however, is that quartet Scott Parker, Jack Collison, Mark Noble and Danny Gabbidon are expected to be back for this weekend’s trip to Aston Villa.

The Hammers are also expected to make an announcement this week on the latest in the club’s takeover saga.

Ex-Birmingham duo David Gold and David Sullivan, along with Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, are in ongoing negotiations with the club’s owners, Icelandic bank Straumur.

Fulham, meanwhile, are closing in on the signing of Roma striker Stefano Okaka.

The Cottagers have reportedly had a bid accepted by the Italians.

Erik Nevland will also be offered a new deal later this month.