How West Ham could finally have some England recognition from Roy Hodgson
PUBLISHED: 07:10 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 07:51 02 October 2015
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Andy Carroll will play for England at next year’s European Championships - if he can stay fit, according to West Ham boss Slaven Bilic.
Roy Hodgson has announced his squad for next week’s qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania but Carroll, who is yet to start a league game this season, was not in contention.
Carroll has been ravaged by fitness problems since signing for the Hammers in June 2013.
He missed five months of the 2013-14 campaign with a heel injury and last season made only 16 appearances after separately tearing ankle and knee ligaments.
Carroll is now close to full fitness, after starting West Ham’s Capital One Cup defeat to Leicester last week, and Bilic believes the striker will win an England recall if he avoids further time on the sidelines.
“The England squad will come as a logical result if things are cured,” Bilic said.
“First of all he has to stay away from injuries. Only with that can he be in a position to have a great season.
“In the past it has not been because he dropped in form it’s because he was injured.
“Step number one, he has made it, he has had a good pre-season, even it was after the season already started, he is now fit.
“The quality was never in doubt, the problem was fitness and without that you can’t have form.”
Carroll came off the bench in West Ham’s 2-2 draw against Norwich last Saturday but raised concern after taking a heavy challenge on his ankle.
A scan has shown no serious damage, however, and the fearless 26-year-old is expected to be available for Saturday’s trip to struggling Sunderland.
“You don’t want to take it away from him, that’s why he is Andy Carroll,” Bilic said.
“It’s his biggest enemy but also his biggest quality, that he rolls up his sleeves and he goes straight in the box, gives the centre half and goalkeeper a bit of a strange look - that’s why he’s like that.
“You want to moderate that a little bit, maybe 10 per cent, tell him not to go for those crazy challenges, but you don’t want to take that away because then he would be half the player.”
Carroll may have to work hard to re-establish himself in the West Ham side given they have scored the highest number of goals in the division so far this season.
Fellow forward Enner Valencia also returned to light training on Thursday after injuring his knee against Astra Giurgiu in July.
“Enner is great news for us,” Bilic said.
“It’s a matter of two or three weeks now if everything goes well. He’s a naturally fit player.”