West Ham boss reveals Andy Carroll’s dressing room boost ahead of Cardiff showdown
PUBLISHED: 08:30 11 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:04 11 January 2014
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Sam Allardyce says Andy Carroll’s mere presence in the West Ham dressing room will lift their spirits for Saturday’s crucial clash against relegation rivals Cardiff.
Club record signing Carroll is set to be named on the bench for the first time this season at the Cardiff City Stadium and Allardyce could hand the former Liverpool striker his first minutes since May as he looks to save the Hammers’ season.
West Ham are without a win in their last seven Premier League outings and their back-to-back cup thrashings against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City have ramped up the pressure on boss Allardyce.
As well as their recent defensive woes, the 19th-placed Hammers have scored just 19 goals in 20 league games in Carroll’s absence this season, and Allardyce hopes the England international can give his struggling side a lift – even if he’s not quite ready to take to the field.
“It’s more about him being back in the squad than actually playing,” said Allardyce.
“It’s the lift of having our major investment, a fantastic centre-forward, a great target man and a really good goalscorer.
“It’s a boost for the fans and the players, just having him back, given where we are at the moment.
“We’ve waited so long and so patiently for this moment to come. We’ll wait and see after training [on Friday].”
He added: “In terms of game-time [against Cardiff], if chosen as a sub, it would be very little. Hopefully he won’t be needed.”
Carroll’s career has been blighted by injuries and Allardyce admits there have been times when he’s wondered whether the 25-year-old would ever find fitness again.
“It’s been a difficult period because of the Andy situation,” he said. “It’s been on-going for so, so long, sometimes you wonder if it’ll ever come to an end.
“We’ve been in need of Andy for so many weeks now that the temptation is to try and rush these things.
“We all want him back, but you can’t put the player at too much risk by trying to play him when he’s not ready.”
The Hammers spent in the region of £15million on Carroll after his loan spell at the club last season, but Allardyce rejected suggestions that it was a risky signing, saying his injury problems this season were completely unforeseen.
“You can only go on the information that’s provided at that time, and that information was what we reacted on and what we did the negotiations and the deal on,” he said.
“All in all, it appeared that the risk of re-injury was about four per cent. Unfortunately for us and for him, Andy became one of the four per cent.”
Allardyce is happy with Carroll’s mental state and says he is desperate to return to action.
“Mentally he’s fine,” said the Hammers boss. “He’s frustrated and eager to get back as quickly as he can.
“We’ve had to keep him calm and focused on the time it’s going to take to make sure it’s right. Hopefully this time there won’t be any problems again.
“I don’t know whether Andy can play ‘within himself’. When he’s on the field, he’s on the field. All thoughts of injury leave him. It’s about passion for playing football.”