Gary O'Neil stresses importance of Andy Carroll for West Ham

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Former West Ham United player Gary O'Neil feels Andy Carroll will be a key player for his old side this season.

Former West Ham United player Gary O’Neil explained the importance for his old side to get Andy Carroll fit and healthy, as he appeared as a co-host on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast Show for talkSPORT.

Carroll has been battling his way back from a difficult knee injury, which saw him miss a large chunk of Sam Allardyce’s final season at Upton Park.

The team moved on and adapted to cope without him, but O’Neil feels that the forward still has a key role to play in the West Ham attack under current manager Slaven Bilic.

“He was massive for us in that first year back in the Premier League, obviously they just need to get him fit,” he told talkSPORT.

“We’ve seen it’s easier said than done at the moment, but I’ve heard he’s working very, very hard behind the scenes with the physios – He’ll be desperate to do well – He’ll be a fantastic asset to West Ham.”

Carroll has a uniqueness

Carroll has a style of play which Bilic won’t be able to replicate with any other player.

He’s a very big and physically imposing striker, who can back right into a defence, occupying two centre backs and generally causing chaos in the opposition’s backline.

He also offers a very obvious goal threat in the air from set pieces and he’s a player that sides often have to put two men on in corner and free kick situations.

The best approach for Bilic

The best approach for the boss in terms of using Carroll needs to be one of caution.

It will be tempting for Bilic to get him back into action quickly, but there’s no point in taking any risks given how long Carroll has been out for.

The most likely scenario is that Bilic will look to use Carroll as an impact player, before potentially starting him later into the campaign.

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