Slaven Bilic will not hold West Ham's Andy Carroll back any longer
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 23/12/16 7:46pm
Slaven Bilic says he will not hold back Andy Carroll anymore and admits his cautious approach may have contributed to the West Ham striker’s recent injury troubles.
Carroll was out for three months with a knee injury suffered in their Europa League clash with Romanian side Astra Giurgiu in August but the 27-year-old returned to action with substitute appearances against Arsenal and Liverpool before starts against Burnley and Hull.
Questions over the striker's involvement in a busy festive period surfaced ahead of their Boxing Day clash at Swansea, but Bilic believes there is no reason to limit Carroll at the Liberty Stadium.
"We are monitoring him but why should I hold him back?" Bilic said. "In training we can tell him to stay in and do some extra work, massages, maybe because before it was always holding him back, 'don't do that, don't do that,' maybe that was main reason he was getting injured.
"You are more likely to get injured if you don't train. Of course you have to be cautious because of his history but if he is feeling good, let's build on that. Why are we being negative?
"He is ready. You know with Andy, you know what you are getting. During the game, in training, you always know what you are going to get. You're going to get everything. Commitment, quality, impact, he's that kind of guy and player.
"What you don't know is the next day, is he going to feel something? Nobody expected Andy to play two full games, against Burnley he played 80 minutes, against Hull he played 90 minutes, it wasn't the plan.
"I spoke to him at half-time during those games and he didn't want to come off against Burnley so we didn't expect it. I spoke to him today and he feels good. Not good in terms of motivation because that is always there but he feels good in his body and I'm delighted."
Bilic also believes that keeping hold of players such as Dimitri Payet and Reece Oxford is important for the club and its stature going forward.
"The whole club have showed where we want to go, it doesn't matter if something happens, players come and go," the 48-year-old added.
"It doesn't mean we are not acting big but it is a big statement with him [Payet]. It was also a big statement with Reece Oxford.
"A few years ago, it would be normal for a player like him to go to a bigger club but he stayed. There were offers from other clubs so that is really big statement for us."