Bilic starts Carroll singing in October

PUBLISHED: 07:30 02 October 2015

West Ham United's Andy Carroll jumps for the ball during their Barclays Premier League match against Norwich at Upton Park (pic: John Walton/PA)

West Ham United's Andy Carroll jumps for the ball during their Barclays Premier League match against Norwich at Upton Park (pic: John Walton/PA)

PA Wire

West Ham manager hopes to have big striker fit for trip to Sunderland

West Ham United head for the north east tomorrow (Saturday) and it could present their big Geordie with a chance to get one over his local rivals.

Gateshead-born and Newcastle United graduate Andy Carroll is slowly returning to full fitness from an ankle injury that hampered his involvement for the Hammers last season.

The target man has already made two Premier League apperances from the bench this year as well as starting the Capital One Cup loss at Leicester.

Carroll suffered a testing blow shortly after coming on in the 72nd minute against Norwich City, but stayed on to play the rest of the match.

It was a worrying moment for all involved at West Ham too, who have seen Carroll suffer a number of setbacks during his rehabilitations.

But boss Slaven Bilic is confident the striker will flourish if he can put his injury blues behind him and stay fit for a full campaign.

“He has to stay away from injuries and only by that will he be in a position to have a good or great season,” said Bilic.

“That’s the number one task, but it doesn’t matter why he didn’t have a great season before. It’s not because he had a drop in form. He was out, he was injured.

“He’s made it back, is now fit and has to be lucky because that tackle against Norwich had nothing to do with fitness.

“I think the form was never in question or in doubt, but the issue was the injuries, and without that you can’t have form.”

At times in the past, it is not just tackles from opposition players that have hampered Carroll’s return, with the striker’s gung-ho nature leading to the occasional mishap.

Some managers may choose to have a quiet word with a player, telling him to calm down to help them get over an injury, but Bilic has no thoughts of doing that with his striker.

He added: “You don’t want to take his bravery away from him, that’s why he’s Andy Carroll.

“His biggest enemy, but also his biggest quality, is that he rolls up his sleeves and he goes straight in the box, gives a goalkeeper and centre-back a bit of a strange look and then he goes.

“You want to moderate it a little bit, about 10 per cent and tell him don’t go in those crazy challenges. But you don’t want to take that away from him because he wouldn’t be half the player he is at the minute.”

Switching his focus to opponents Sunderland, Bilic admits he is not overly surprised where they currently find themselves.

He added: “All this time, I’ve been watching the Premier League and knew Sunderland’s situation the last few years, but I didn’t go that deep into it.

“They are a big club, but every year they are struggling. The managers are blamed because every one does it. If it’s one or two, okay, but if it’s three, four, five, then they are definitely not the reason.”

Let’s hope those words do not stir Dick Advocaat’s men tomorrow.

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