As we head into a new season, we again find ourselves without the injured Andy Carroll for around four months – so who’s going to successfully take the number nine role?

Mauro Zarate is too small to play the lone striker and is best utilised in the hole behind the main striker, but no doubt Big Sam will occasionally play him up front on his own and the crowd could get on his back, and his confidence could suffer as a result.

Carlton Cole can, and has done many times before, played the number nine role. But his best days are behind him now. He is lethargic and too slow to catch a cold. He can be frustrating to watch and the crowd’s frustration often leads to petulant sulking and a lack of confidence. When a striker is confident, the goals will come.

That leaves us with our latest striking addition – Enner Valencia. In comparison, both Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia are very similar. Valencia is only 10 months younger than Carroll and they are of similar height and build.

Carroll puts in a shift when he plays for West Ham. Drops deep to help defend and makes a nuisance of himself in and around the opponent’s box. But his injury problems are proving to be a major head ache to everyone connected with the club.

We are yet to see Valencia kick a ball in anger in our colours but we’ve all seen him play for Ecuador at the World Cup in Brazil. He too puts himself about and is fantastic in the air. Leaping up head and shoulders above everyone else in order to get his head on the ball.

A month or so ago a few rumours were circulating about Alan Pardew possibly wanting to take Andy Carroll back to his boyhood club Newcastle. If an offer came in, I think Andy would of jumped at the chance to go back to Tyneside. Lately he seems to be more interested in fame than football. Turning up to all sorts of media events and being photographed leaving nightclubs at 4am on a Sunday morning.

Valencia isn’t yet fully match fit so I expect to see Carlton Cole lead the line for the first few games and then Valencia will take over.

It’s then up to him to knuckle down, stay fit, put in good performances, hopefully score a hat full of goals, and keep Andy Carroll out of the starting eleven, because no player has a divine right to start every week, unless you’re Kevin Nolan it would seem, but that’s a whole different story.

So Andy Carroll’s injury could be a blessing in disguise, as we already have a natural replacement in Enner Valencia. Whether it is short term or long term remains to be seen but I, for one, cannot wait to see Valencia make the main striker role his own.

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