Bilic predicts bright future for fit-again Carroll
LONDON – West Ham United striker Andy Carroll is poised to enter the best stretch of his career if he can stay fit, according to manager Slaven Bilic.
Carroll’s career has been plagued by injury problems and the 28-year-old missed more than four months of the current season, from mid-August to December, with West Ham winning just three of 12 league games in that period.
Since his return to the team on Dec. 3, West Ham have won five of 10 in the league and drawn one, with Carroll’s contribution of five goals helping them move away from the relegation zone and up to 10th in the table.
“He is at a great age, he is happy, he’s smiling, he’s settled down,” Bilic told West Ham’s website. “He’s happy with us and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t enter five years of his best football now.
“He is 100 percent fit now. He has been training for a couple of months, and there is no reason to think the best period of his career won’t come now.”
Carroll, who has been in unstoppable form in recent weeks, scored twice in Saturday’s 3-1 league win at Middlesbrough, and Bilic praised the striker’s ability to dominate defences with his aerial prowess.
“When I was playing at centre back I always felt it was up to me rather than down to the centre forward when the ball comes in,” added the manager, whose own playing career included spells at West Ham and Everton.
“With Andy it’s different, whoever plays centre back it’s more up to Andy. It’s unbelievable. “Now he looks fit, he’s training. Of course we are managing him, but we are not nursing him like maybe before. He is training as much as possible, without going over the line. For me it’s the only way to stay fit, by training.” -Reuters