Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Fit-again Andy Carroll can shine for West Ham and England - Slaven Bilic

Andy Carroll, right, scored his first goal since January as West Ham beat Chelsea
Andy Carroll, right, scored his first goal since January as West Ham beat Chelsea

Slaven Bilic believes Andy Carroll's injury problems are finally behind him and is backing the West Ham striker to make an England comeback.

Somewhat lost amidst the furore surrounding red cards to Jose Mourinho, a member of his coaching staff and midfielder Nemanja Matic on Saturday was the re-emergence of Carroll.

The much-maligned frontman, who has spent most of his West Ham career on the treatment table, climbed off the bench to score a trademark goal which sealed a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Upton Park.

In front of England manager Roy Hodgson, the 26-year-old met Aaron Cresswell's 79th-minute cross with a towering header for his first goal since January.

Bilic put Carroll through his own personal pre-season once he had recovered from his latest injury, in a bid to stop him breaking down again, and he now feels West Ham - and England - will reap the rewards.

"Andy is a big player for us, and also for England," the Hammers manager said. "He is special.

"He gives us a lot of options. It's not just long balls, he is a great player, his quality has never been in doubt. We just needed to get him fit

"Now we are in a really good situation with that and he should be fit long-term. Then West Ham and possibly England should have a great benefit."

Mauro Zarate fired West Ham ahead before Matic was shown a second yellow card, prompting a furious reaction from first-team coach Silvino Louro and a half-time exchange between Blues boss Mourinho and referee Jonathan Moss.

Gary Cahill equalised for the 10 men but Mourinho, banished from the dug-out along with Louro, cut a lonely figure in the West Ham directors' box as everyone around him celebrated Carroll's winner, capping a memorable afternoon which lifted the Hammers up to third in the Premier League.

"It's a great feeling to score any goal, but obviously it has been a long time since I last scored," Carroll told the club website. "To get the win as well is even better.

"When I saw the ball come across I knew I had a chance to put it in and as soon as it went in it was a feeling like you really can't describe. It might be a typical Andy Carroll goal, but I'll take it.

"I just want to be on the pitch and if it's 20 or 25 minutes it's a great feeling. Obviously I want to start, but it's been a long injury and long time so I'll take every minute I get."

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