Belfast Telegraph

Slaven Bilic yet to decide if Andy Carroll will start against Burnley

Slaven Bilic is weighing up whether to risk Andy Carroll from the start when Burnley head to the London Stadium on Wednesday night.

The striker is finally fit after his latest injury absence, three-and-a-half months with a knee problem, and has made two substitute appearances against Arsenal and Liverpool.

The Hammers have emerged from a nightmare run of fixtures, which also included Tottenham and Manchester United, and now face back-to-back home games with Burnley and Hull.

But Bilic is wary of pinning West Ham's hopes of moving away from relegation trouble squarely on the shoulders of injury-plagued Carroll.

"We will decide on Wednesday," said the Hammers boss at his pre-match press conference.

"He came on twice from the bench, now we need to decide whether to use him from the bench or from the start.

"We have two very important games and we have to manage our players to be available in both.

"I've been talking about Carroll for most of the last season, he's that kind of player. It is a big blow when we are missing him.

"We are not afraid to start him but we have to think twice on how to manage him.

"We can't look only at Wednesday's game, but we have to look at the bigger picture."

Cheikhou Kouyate is available after missing the 5-1 drubbing by Arsenal and Sunday's 2-2 draw at Anfield with a hamstring injury.

"He trained normally on Monday with all the guys," added Bilic. "He looked all right and looks fit for Wednesday.

"He's a very important player for us and has showed that since he joined the club. When he doesn't play it is a big blow. He's that kind of player."

The Hammers climbed out of the bottom three after their battling point at Liverpool but are without a win in six matches.

Bilic admits they are glad to see the back of their recent tough spell and view two home games against lowlier opposition as a big chance to turn their season around.

"We need to beat Burnley and we need the points," he said. "It has been a difficult schedule and we have been waiting for these home games."

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