Tony Cottee Column: Carroll injury a blow, but now is the time for Carlton to step up

“Cole will be the main man for the next few games and he has to show that he is up to the task.”

It was simply fantastic to see West Ham get back to winning ways in real style against Fulham at the weekend in a real dominant performance from Sam Allardyce’s side.

I was working for Sky at Nottingham Forest, but I made sure I got to the ground early so that I could watch the game.

And I have to admit that the first goal came so quickly that I missed it, but I managed to catch a replay and what a start it was from the Hammers.

All the pre-match talk was about Andy Carroll and whether he could deliver for West Ham and within 53 seconds he had played a part in Kevin Nolan’s opening goal.

That seemed to settle everyone down and calm any nerves and I thought it changed the feel of the game and only one team ever looked like winning the match.

I have to say that I thought we came up against a very poor Fulham team, but you can only beat what is in front of you, and that is taking nothing away from what was a very impressive performance from West Ham.

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A lot of people have criticised the Hammers’ style of football under Allardyce, but Saturday truly rubbished this long-ball nonsense that seems to have been associated with the club.

We played a real mixture of stuff, from diagonal balls to Carroll to nice pass and move football and that should keep the critics quiet for a while.

For me, after the first goal went in I knew it would only be a matter of time before we got a second, and if we went in at half-time 5 or 6-0 up, I don’t think Fulham could have had much to complain about.

However, in true West Ham fashion, just when things are going really well for us, we suffered an injury to Carroll, just minutes before he was due to be substituted anyway.

It will be a big blow to see Andy missing for six weeks, but to me it was clear he was not 100 per cent match fit from the first whistle.

He had a long summer with England and didn’t feature hugely at Liverpool throughout pre-season, so although he is out for six weeks, it could take longer until he is firing on all cylinders again.

Having said that, I was delighted that we managed to sign the Liverpool man and I believe that he will be a huge hit at Upton Park.

I am really excited to see him back in action, especially when we have Matt Jarvis in the team too as the service from the winger will be perfect for Carroll.

It was clear to see for all how much Carroll brings other players into the game too, which is exactly how we scored the first goal.

With Andy in the team, other Hammers will be licking their lips at the prospect of scoring more goals, especially the likes of Nolan.

However, with Carroll missing through injury, it provides Carlton Cole with the perfect opportunity to stand up and be counted and become West Ham’s main striker once again.

When Allardyce brought in Carroll, Cole could have done one of two things; either sit there and sulk and get the hump, or get his head down and train hard and force his way back into the manager’s plans.

It was only going to be one way with Carlton, and I expect him to be working his socks off in the next few games and show us all what he is made of.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John

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