When West Ham return to action after the international break against Newcastle, a certain Geordie striker by the name of Andy Carroll will finally make his return to first team action following a long term injury lay off since February.
His return to first team action will be a huge boost to Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, who has been short in the striking department so far this season following injuries to Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate.
So Carroll’s return will not only put less pressure on Diafra Sakho for the Hammers’ goals, but it will also give Bilic a few more options in attack, in terms of the different systems he could play.
With Carroll in the team West Ham would have a target man, someone who can lead the line and hold the ball up and bring the likes of Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini into play. He can play alongside Sakho and Bilic could line West Ham up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation that was so successful last season under Sam Allardyce.
Obviously it is important that the Hammers don’t rush him back and give him the necessary time to ease himself back into first team football, rather than rush him back like they have been guilty of doing in recent years. He will need time, and the possible arrival of Nikica Jelavic from Hull City should at least take some of the pressure away from Carroll.
West Ham’s record signing has all the necessary natural strengths to play up front by himself, or Bilic could choose to rotate him and Sakho – his return will be a huge boost for West Ham and Bilic will have some different options in attack that hasn’t really been there so far.
Bilic has been limited to what he can play at West Ham because of the injuries, which has meant even the much maligned Modibo Maiga had to come off the bench in the first three games.
One thing that can’t be understated is the big number nine’s massive strengths that require special attention from the opposition, such as his incredible aerial prowess and ability to score headers from average balls in. Then there is his thunderous left foot, and perhaps one of his biggest strengths is his ability to hold the ball up and dominate opposing centre-backs.
Carroll is a real dangerous player, and if West Ham can keep him fit you do get the sense that the former Liverpool striker will get goals for Bilic’s men this season.
It’s just keeping fit is easier said than done for Andy Carroll.