Belfast Telegraph

Carroll: I'm no one-trick pony

Andy Carroll insists he is far more than a mere target man and is confident he can slot right into West Ham's new-look forward line.

The 25-year-old made his first appearance of the new season on Saturday when introduced as a substitute against Aston Villa at the start of four minutes' stoppage time and almost snatched victory with a close-range header which was somehow clawed away by visiting goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Carroll, signed by the Hammers in a club-record £15million deal from Liverpool in June 2013, is targeting his regular place back in the starting XI after recovering from pre-season ankle surgery.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has deployed summer signings Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia to great effect in the first part of the season, with the form of supporting midfield playmaker Stewart Downing earning him an England recall.

At 6ft 3in, some would suggest the only role Carroll can play is as the physical target man in a more direct style, but the former Newcastle man disagrees.

"I have got enough quality on the floor as well as in the air," he said.

"People have got that image of me, just on the end of long balls. They have got the image of Sam and long balls. It just does not work like that.

"The gaffer knows he can play both ways and he has shown that this season.

"I think I am capable of doing that as well. I think it is a tag that we have both got that is not justified."

Carroll, though, accepts there should be no guarantees of selection.

"We have got a fantastic squad with great technique. The work rate is great and I am delighted to be involved in this squad and to be fighting for my position," he said.

"It is a great feeling to be a part of something like this. The team moving forward, the club moving forward. It is a fantastic time to be a West Ham player."

Allardyce believes Carroll has to put his well-documented off-field problems firmly behind him, having recently become engaged to former The Only Way Is Essex star Billi Mucklow.

"With (the time off because of) injuries and me settling down, I think it shows," the striker said.

"I have matured a lot off the pitch and in training, on the pitch, it shows."

Carroll had been an integral part of the international set-up before his injury setbacks, and there remains hope he could end next season at the European Championship finals.

"England is always on my mind, but it is not the first thing that I think of. (The first thing) is me being back and fit and being back for West Ham," he said.

"If things like England then knock on the door, fantastic, but I have got to do well for West Ham first."

Allardyce is glad to have Carroll as another potent attacking option once again, but will not rush things.

The Hammers boss said: "The squad we have today is working fantastically well, so it is slowly but surely with Andy.

"That is not to say he won't play (from the start) in three or four games, but it might be five or six. We will gauge it each week."

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