Will Andy Carroll save Big Sam's West Ham job ?

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West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has revealed star striker Andy Carroll is not far off a return to the side from injury. It could not be more timely.

It's an overused cliché to suggest an injury returnee is like 'a new signing', but for West Ham, the imminent return of Carroll is perhaps as close to the true meaning of the phrase as you can get. And the £15m striker could hold the key to saving Sam Allardyce's West Ham job too.

Speaking ahead of the Hammers' FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest, Allardyce revealed that Carroll could make his first appearance of the season soon. He said: 'Andy will be assessed after every training session and he'll be out training with the lads on Friday, which he has done for a few days now.

'Andy playing football is something we have to take big care about, because he is fit from the injury but not match-fit. As soon as we can, he'll start from the bench'.

Indeed, the timing could not be better for the east London side, with Allardyce's men without a win in seven Premier League games.

West Ham's struggles this season have largely been down to a lack of firepower up front and Carroll's return should solve that issue. Without the ex-Liverpool forward, West Ham have just 15 points from 20 games and are 19th in the Premier League table. With Carroll, however, the Hammers finished 10th last season and stayed well clear of relegation trouble. The striker himself contributed seven assists and four goals to West Ham's overall tally.

Meanwhile, the tactical advantages the 24-year-old brings to the table are numerous, with Carroll slotting into Allardyce's preferred system perfectly.

Quite simply, though, the target man needs to start playing and scoring to start paying back the £15m the east London side paid Liverpool for him. But if he does deliver, he could well end up saving Big Sam's West Ham career, as he has so often proved the difference between winning or losing.

image: © Matthew Black

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