West Ham boss Slaven Bilic pleased to welcome back key players
Last Updated: 15/10/15 12:53pm
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is delighted to have Andy Carroll and other key players returning to fitness after the international break.
Carroll is available for Saturday's London derby with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park after recovering from an ankle injury - the latest in a series of setbacks that have blighted his career.
The England international has also faced criticism from former Hammers boss Sam Allardyce who believes the striker does not have the "right attitude".
But Bilic has defended Carroll, insisting the former Newcastle and Liverpool player has worked hard and shown an impressive attitude in the time the Croatian has been at the club.
"I have to make comments on what I see. Everyday training, rehabilitation, especially in period was top class. That's why we are expecting to have big time benefits from that because he was taken care of," said Bilic.
Angelo Ogbonna is also available for selection having overcome a hamstring problem, while Enner Valencia and Alex Song are closing on returns to first team action.
"I'm pleased with how Enner, Angelo and Andy have recovered and it's good to have them back [in training]," said Bilic. "Valencia is one of our biggest weapons. He has been with us one week now, on and off - not every day. He still needs a couple of weeks.
"Alex Song is a maximum of three weeks away. [Aaron] Cresswell has a minor injury and we'll see how he is. Reidy [Winston Reid] is not a big one and again we'll see if one, both or neither of them will be involved in the game on Saturday."
France international Dimitri Payet has made an immediate impression with four goals in 10 games since joining from Marseille over the summer, which comes as no surprise to Bilic and, he suspects, the opposition.
"I think teams have given Payet attention already. Maybe he was unknown to some of the fans, but everybody involved in football knew Dimitri Payet before he came to West Ham," said Bilic.
"He plays in a position where you have to close that space, whoever plays there. I have no worries that there'll be extra attention on him. He's got the quality that teams are trying to mark him."
As for Saturday's opponents Palace, Bilic admits his players will need to be at their best to maintain an excellent start to the season that sees them in sixth place.
"Palace are a good team - good in defending and great on counter-attacks. Every one of their attackers runs behind without the ball," said Bilic.
"Big credit to him [Alan Pardew] because he's doing a great job. Add to that Yohan Cabaye, who can do special things. He's a top class playmaker. We're looking forward to the game. It will be a difficult test for us."