Belfast Telegraph

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic backs "little and large" strike partnership

Slaven Bilic is backing Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll to form a potent partnership and help turn West Ham's season around.

Carroll made his first appearance in five months against Huddersfield on Monday after recovering from a hip injury and is likely to retain his place for Saturday's game at West Brom.

His return brings into focus the role of Hernandez, who joined from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer and has scored twice in his first four league games.

Strike partnerships were once the norm in the Premier League, when the likes of Manchester United's Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, and Blackburn's Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer tormented defences in previous years.

But while lone forwards have become most coaches' formation of choice, Bilic believes Carroll and Hernandez can be another deadly duo.

"Definitely they can play together, they are complimentary players," Bilic said.

"That was the plan when we got Hernandez. We didn't buy him just because of that but also one of the reasons why he was great for us was because they are two players that can play with each other.

"The little and large striker, it's not that you don't see that in football anymore, a lot of teams play with two strikers.

"It's maybe not exactly like that but you have Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann (at Atletico Madrid). Griezmann is the one who is floating, Torres is the more direct.

"You have that maybe less nowadays but it's not old-fashioned. They can play together."

Another boost to West Ham's attacking options this weekend will be the return of Marko Arnautovic, who has been suspended since elbowing Southampton's Jack Stephens last month.

Bilic says Arnautovic, who cost a club-record £25million in the transfer window, owes his team-mates a performance.

"It's not a one-man game but he did something very bad at the start of his West Ham career," Bilic said.

"Instead of helping us straight away he wasn't there for three games because of what he did against Southampton. So now he has to make it up to us.

"I've spoken to him a few times about that and he's said he can't wait to come back and that he wants to make it up to us. I'm expecting that from him. He is very hungry and very motivated to do it."

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