WAYNE ROONEY has warned Pre- mier League leaders Manchester United to pay special attention to Andy Carroll at Old Trafford tonight.
Carroll is bound to get a frosty reception from the United fans when West Ham travel north. As a Liverpool player with an enormous price tag, it is hard to imagine the United fans will not single him out.
However, after working alongside the 23-year-old at close quarters during Euro 2012, Rooney believes that the reality of Carroll's performances is nowhere near the perception many have of him.
The burly forward will travel north with confidence high fol- lowing his first goal of the season at Tottenham on Sunday.
And Rooney has warned his United team-mates to be on their guard.
“Andy Carroll is a handful,” said the striker.
“I am sure if you ask any defender, they find it difficult to play against someone like that who is good in the air and on the floor.
“He is physical and makes it hard for opponents.
“That type of player doesn't always get all the goals but they can cause trouble up front and create problems. “I am sure that is what Sam Allardyce wants him to do.”
Rather like Rooney, Carroll is like a lightning conductor for attention.
It seems he cannot have a quiet game, when he blends into the background.
He has to either be sensational or rubbish, with the brutal assessment often falling on the latter.
Rooney knows from personal experience such situations are never quite so black and white.
However, he accepts they come with the territory. "It is something you get used to," he said. "In the Premier League, you are there to be judged, whether that is good or bad.
"You just have to deal with it."
Carroll is an obvious threat given United's Achilles heel of conceding the first goal. It has happened on an incredible 13 occasions this season, including in their last five games.
Indeed, United have managed to clamber to the top of the Premier League, despite managing just a single clean sheet, against Wigan at Old Trafford in September.
It is a record Rooney accepts must be rectified if United are going to maintain their status.
"Clean sheets are the foundation we try and achieve because we have plenty of players who can score goals and win games," he said.
"As a team we are playing some good stuff at times, but we are having to grind out results as well.
"Losing three games already is something we need to put right. We have been lucky we haven't drawn any matches and we need to kick on from here and go on a good run."
With Paul Scholes suspended, Alex Ferguson has already confirmed Anderson will start for only the second time in the league this season. It is also possible either Phil Jones or Chris Smalling will replace Rafael at right-back given the number of games the Brazilian has been involved in this season.
David de Gea might come in for Anders Lindegaard, while it is doubtful Darren Fletcher will feature in his third game of the week, despite scoring a first league goal in 13 months at the weekend.
"We know City and Chelsea will be looking out for our results as we look out for theirs," said Rooney.
"But it is important for us to concentrate on our own performances and make sure we get the wins because there are a lot of games coming up.
"It is tough period and I am sure the manager will use his squad. We just have to make sure we come through for him."