Dean Ashton says West Ham striker Andy Carroll is the 'world's best' in this department

Former West Ham United hero Dean Ashton has given his emphatic backing to striker Andy Carroll.

Carroll was once again crucial for the Hammers as he came of the bench to set up the crucial goal in a 1-0 FA Cup third round win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend.

That came off the back of two goals in back-to-back wins over Southampton and Carroll's former club Liverpool.

Slaven Bilic's side are unbeaten in eight games in all competitions and Carroll has played a big part in it now he is match fit.

The big Geordie forward had struggled to make an impact on his return from an eight-month lay-off this season and speculation has been rife West Ham would be willing to sell their record signing, as reported by the likes of The Mirror.

But another striker who knows all about suffering with injuries during his time at West Ham is Dean Ashton.

Ashton was forced to retire aged 26 just as he was forging a reputation as one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League with the Hammers.

'I felt sorry for Andy'

And Ashton sympathises with Carroll, telling West Ham's official webiste they would be losing a world's best talent if they sold him.

"Andy Carroll has scored and played well in recent matches," Ashton told

"Going through injury problems myself, I felt sorry for Andy when people were writing him off and saying he was injury-prone and seemed to never come back.

"When he got fit, he had to be patient and wait for his chance, which was difficult, but now he is in the side and match-fit, I don’t think there is anybody better at heading the ball in world football."

A point proved

Ashton makes a salient point and that has been evidenced in the wins over Southampton and Liverpool with two fantastic headers helping seal consecutive home wins.

Carroll has been seen as something of an expensive plan B for the Hammers, but with star striker Diafra Sakho injured he is starting to prove he can fit into Bilic's plans.

Against Wolves, though, it was Carroll's ability with the ball at his feet which took many by surprise.

The ex Newcastle United striker embarked on a number of swashbuckling runs and showed great feet to lay a perfect ball into the path of striker partner Jelavic for the winner.

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