Can this fallen hero find his way back into West Ham’s team?***

One thing that most clubs’ fans usually do when a key player is due back from injury is to wait with anticipation until his return, in the hope that when he is back he will get straight back into the team and start making a difference for them again. That is of course unless that team is playing well already and the players that have covered said injured player’s position are currently in such good form that you wouldn’t want to see them dropped – not even for your record signing.

This is the case at West Ham United with the pending return from the injury table of Andy Carroll. The crocked star is making good and speedy recovery from his latest spell on the sidelines and is due to make his return around Christmas time, with some media outlets reporting as early as November.

Last season anyone associated with the club would have snapped your hand off at the chance to have him back from injury due to the fact that there was no one else able to play upfront and make any sort of impact, whether that be creating chances or actually scoring some goals. The squad there was thinly spread and very poor quality, especially in the striker department.

This season, however, is a completely different kettle of fish for the Hammers with an embarrassment of riches in the talents they boast all over the pitch, not just up front. They have acquired some exceptional players who are currently doing the business just fine thank you very much Andy Carroll.

Diafra Sakho has made the biggest impact so far, scoring in each of his Premier League starts; he has been partnered with Enner Valencia upfront who himself has shown moments of pure magic and creative play which has captivated everyone who has been lucky enough to watch him.

Some of the old boys have started to shine as well, Stewart Downing in particular in his new more central role at the top of the new diamond formation rather than on the wing has really come in to his element in recent games and has been a revelation.

With such a strong attacking force in place and a newfound ability to score goals this season, it begs a few vital questions now that there is an Andy Carroll shaped elephant in the room waiting to come back and upset the apple cart. First of all, who would he replace? Secondly, where does he fit in to the new system which involves a lot more on the floor, attractive football than last season? And lastly, should he even be given a chance considering that the squad depth and quality is so high?

It would be foolish to think that Carroll has nothing to offer. When fit and playing at the top of his game, he is unstoppable and a major threat to any defence that faces him. There is perhaps no one in the present team that deserves to lose their place based on present form, however, form does dip at times, fatigue or injury can come into play at some point and let’s not forget the African Cup of Nations which will see top scorer Sakho leave for a period of time. Carroll for now could be used as a substitute, imagine having been given the run around by Valencia and Sakho for 60 minutes only to see that the big Geordie is coming off the bench to give you an extra half hour of grief!

Should he be needed once fit, he can come in and replace or step in whenever the time will come for him to do so. Like with any player at any club at any level, there is always a chance to come back and try prove yourself one way or another.

The new system looks like it suits Andy less than the old one, being so tall, he likes the long ball pumped up high so he can feed off it to another player. Just because West Ham are now playing a different way does not mean that he cannot still have a good impact off the lofted ball from time-to-time. He has a lot more talented players to actually mop up his headers for him than he has ever had before. Rather than heading it into empty space, this time round he has so many decent players that will be there, ready for the knock down and will be pouncing on the opportunity to score – which means if anything Carroll’s return actually compliments the new style of play and the new faces in the squad and can help add even more goals to the equation than they already have.

There is no doubt that Andy brings a lot of positives to the table and it will not be at the expense of dropping someone from the team, he will add to what they already have as a great impact sub, and assistant manager Neil McDonald has also said that the current formation and tactics will stay the same regardless, they would even consider playing two up front meaning Carroll could combine with Sakho or Valencia as a partnership-again, adding to the positives rather than taking anything away.

West Ham fans, you star is about to make a return, welcome him with open arms, the kid is hungry for goals and success and only good can come from it. Ignore the lazy journalism linking him away from the club in January because your gaffer has got the powerhouse firmly in his plans.