Belfast Telegraph

Andy Carroll praises West Ham's 'fantastic' morale

Andy Carroll has saluted the team spirit which has united the West Ham dressing room in the wake of Dimitri Payet's plea to leave the club.

The Hammers were rocked by the news that their star man wanted to go earlier this month, but Slaven Bilic's side have responded in the best possible way by putting together back-to-back Premier League victories over Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough without him.

Carroll has been at the centre of that, scoring a stunning volley in a 3-0 demolition of Palace and then helping himself to a double on Saturday as his side claimed a 3-1 victory at the Riverside Stadium to dispel memories of a difficult start to the campaign.

The 28-year-old striker told the club's official website, www.whufc.com: "I think the lads have come together even stronger recently with everything that's going on and you can see on the pitch everyone is working together, putting the grit in and that's when the points come.

"The morale in the dressing room is fantastic. All the lads are having a laugh before and it's great to be around. Everyone wants to work for the manager and it's brilliant.

"It was tough at the beginning of the season, but we came out of that and we're just thinking about each game as it comes."

Carroll opened the scoring with a thunderous ninth-minute header from Manuel Lanzini's corner, and after Cristhian Stuani had levelled, struck again from close range when keeper Victor Valdes could only parry Michail Antonio's powerfully-struck shot.

Substitute Jonathan Calleri completed the job in stoppage time with his first goal for the club, a shot which deflected in off Adam Clayton, but not before the former Newcastle and Liverpool man had limped off with a groin problem.

However Carroll, who had been a doubt because of a whiplash injury, later revealed his premature departure was purely precautionary.

He said: "My groin was a little bit tight so we didn't want to risk anything. I didn't train all week and I was a little bit stiff, so maybe that's one of the reasons why it's a bit tight. But I'm all good and looking forward to the next game.

"I feel good. I'm working hard and hopefully a lot more goals will come. I thrive on great balls in like that and I always try my best to get on the end of it.

"We've got 10 days until the next game, so we'll rest up and look forward to that."

Boro boss Aitor Karanka was less than impressed with the home crowd expressing their desperation for his players to get the ball forward early, but could not fault his team's efforts.

Karanka said: "I said after Watford it had been a good game to watch and I think this was a good game to watch, but no good for us.

"I am really proud of the players because once again they are doing their best every single training session, every single game, and they have to keep going.

"Obviously when you concede from a set-piece there are things you can fix, and especially when they have seen on the videos how good Carroll is in the air.

"But again, I don't think it's a day to blame someone because we win as a team and we lose as a team."

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