Neil Ruddock says Andy Carroll staying fit is vital for West Ham United

West Ham's Andy Carroll

The former Hammers defender believes Carroll can be a key man for the club this season.

West Ham's Andy Carroll

Former West Ham United defender Neil Ruddock has told the Daily Express that he believes Andy Carroll staying fit is vitally important to the club's season.

Carroll managed just 27 Premier League appearances last season, of which only 13 were starts, but still ended the campaign as the club's joint-top goalscorer in the league with nine strikes.

Though injuries meant he was unable to sustain any momentum, during his periods of full fitness he posed a huge danger to opposition defences and looked to have re-found his lethal scoring touch.

West Ham's Andy Carroll scores their first goal

West Ham are currently engaged in a high-profile striker search, but after missing out on Alexandre Lacazette it has been reported that they could be set to be turned down by AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca because of their reluctance to meet his wage demands.

Ruddock believes that his old club might already have the answer to their problem under their noses, and told the Express that if they can keep Carroll fit he will be a huge asset for them this season.

West Ham's Dimitri Payet, Mark Noble and Andy Carroll celebrate at the end of the match

The former defender said: "West Ham need Carroll to be fit, whatever people say about him. He’s an asset at both ends, because he’s very handy defending corners and free-kicks - he’s always there putting his head on the ball.

"And with Payet playing behind him it gives them an option to swing balls into the box and have Andy knock the ball down for him."

Even if West ham have Carroll firing on all cylinders they are likely to need another striker, particularly with both Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia having struggled for goals last term and now thought to be looking to leave the club.

West Ham's And Carroll applauds their fans after being substituted

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