West Ham front-man and England international Andy Carroll has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
It came after the striker required surgery on his left knee, keeping him out of action until the summer. Carroll picked up the knock whilst playing in a midweek league fixture against Southampton, where it was later revealed that he had suffered medial ligament damage in his left leg. The gaffer had spoken out on the news, and described it as ‘a big blow that we have to cope with.’
It is indeed a huge injury blow for Sam Allardyce and the team, having already suffered limited options in the striking areas following the departure of Mauro Zarate on loan to QPR, and then him returning miserably, as well as the failure to sign Emmanuel Adebayor in the January transfer window.
Since returning to the first team following his previous long-term ankle injury, Carroll scored five goals for us, so he did have a positive impact when he came back. However, his absence has severely left the Hammers with a serious lack of aerial threat when set pieces are pumped into the penalty area, and his sheer physicality and power on the ball have been amiss.
His chemistry with the likes of Kevin Nolan and Stewart Downing was also a highlight of some of our gameplay earlier in the campaign, and it was evident that they missed Carroll’s strengths during the thrashing in the FA Cup tie against West Brom in February. This has also been evident in the league form too, with two wins this calendar year and a drop from the European places to the mid-table positions.
The striker, who West Ham paid Liverpool £15million for, is absolutely no stranger to suffering from injury problems throughout his career. Since making the move from Merseyside, he has struggled to keep a consistent run of games for the team, which has led to many of the home faithful questioning the signing of Andy Carroll altogether. The manager has been patient with him, and there is no doubt that the Newcastle-born player has talent, having been capped nine times for England.
On the contrary though, there is a case in point that the money could have been spent better, especially considering the low fees paid for clinical goal-scorers, such as Diafra Sakho.
The impact of the injury now increases the burden on both his and Enner Valencia’s shoulders, whilst Carlton Cole may now have to take more responsibility for the team, and these sort of burdens can perhaps sometimes cause rifts within the dressing room, which does not bode well for team morale, especially considering things like the wage structure.
Whether or not the board will start to consider signing a replacement, it is difficult to see Andy Carroll being sold anytime soon. His injury prone status will not be particularly attractive to many clubs around the country, making it tough to get a decent amount of money for him.
Carroll has suffered knee, ankle and hamstring problems in the past couple of years so the medical issues are not a one-off feature. There has been talk linking him with a possible move back to Newcastle, with perhaps Papiss Cisse moving in the opposite direction.
The Irons have also been linked with Connor Wickham at Sunderland, and Islam Slimani at Sporting Lisbon, who Big Sam has admitted his interest in previously. Some would argue that maybe it is a good time to give the youth an opportunity, particularly when you look at the period of the season we are now in and it gives a great chance for the youth to show what they can do in the world’s biggest league.
We have seen what the likes of Harry Kane can do when given a chance at Tottenham, and Elliot Lee is a quality young prospect in the academy who could be recalled from his impressive loan spell at Luton, with three goals in six appearances in League 2.