Should this West Ham ace be back in England frame?

After Andy Carroll’s eagerly anticipated return from injury last month, the West Ham striker has started all three of the Hammers’ league wins. The big man scored twice against Swansea City at Upton Park on Sunday, which helped the East Londoners move up to third in the Premier League table.

Despite Carroll’s absence from the West Ham first-team at the beginning of the season, Sam Allardyce’s side have enjoyed a superb start to their league campaign. The recent arrivals of Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell, Morgan Amalfitano, Enner Valencia and the goal-machine Diafra Sakho have all gelled together extremely quick, to give West Ham their best start to a league season for a number of years.

Some would have questioned how and where Carroll would have slotted back into the starting XI. But with 15 minutes remaining of the Irons’ 0-0 home draw with Aston Villa on November 8th – the ex-Newcastle ace played his first bit of football since the final day of last season. Since then, West Ham’s £15m man has started every game and they have a 100% record with him.

Carroll gives Allardyce another option up top. With the lively Sakho and Valencia – along with Carlton Cole, West Ham now have plenty of quality attacking choices – something they haven’t had for a good few seasons.

Carroll disappointingly missed out on Roy Hodgson’s 23-man World Cup squad in the summer, as the boss opted for the experienced Rickie Lambert instead. The decision would have no doubt hurt Carroll, who had performed so well in England’s Euro 2012 campaign. The 25-year-old has also missed out on the last few international squads due to injury.

Now that the imposing Geordie is back in Allardyce’s first-team he must be hoping his recent club performances haven’t gone unnoticed by Hodgson. Lambert has endured a tough start to his Liverpool career, although he has picked up his form recently in Mario Balotelli’s absence.

Carroll and Lambert both give the England boss a good problem to have. But the fact that Liverpool are doing so poorly and with West Ham flying high in third, it could put Carroll in the driving seat. England’s next competitive match is a European Championship qualifier against Lithuania – which takes place in late March next year.

Carroll – who has accumulated transfer fees of £50m – has represented his country nine times and scored two goals, including England’s opening goal in the 3-2 Euro 2012 Group D win over Sweden. His last appearance came in the Three Lions’ 5-0 World Cup Qualifying win over San Marino over two years ago.

Carroll has a presence up front that would benefit any team, although inconsistency has sometimes troubled the striker. After his £35m move to Anfield from Newcastle nearly four years ago, the pressure on him to succeed was enormous. But it wasn’t Carroll’s fault that Kenny Dalglish splashed out that sort of money on the then 22-year-old. Carroll really struggled on Merseyside, but since his loan spell to West Ham was made permanent, he really seems to have found his home at Upton Park.

Sam Allardyce’s West Ham travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday – to face a Sunderland team desperate for the points – and Carroll should be expecting to start, especially after his two-goal performance last time out. If Carroll can stay fit, and if the Irons can keep on picking up positive results, he will fancy his chances of being included in Hodgson’s next England squad announcement.


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