Injury-prone Andy Carroll leaves West Ham in a predicament ahead of Europa clash

West Ham's Andy Carroll and Manchester United's Daley Blind in action

West Ham United are struggling to bring in a top level striker ahead of their big Olympic Stadium move but can Slaven Bilic afford to rely on Andy Carroll?

West Ham's Andy CarrollWest Ham's Andy Carroll

Jack Sullivan, son of Hammers co-owner David, confirmed rumours doing the rounds on social media this week that Carroll has picked up an injury and will miss around two weeks of key pre-season training.

The injury will also likely rule Carroll out of West Ham's crucial two-legged Europa League third qualifying round clash with either Belarus side Shaktyor Soligorsk or Slovenian minnows Domzale on July 28th and August 4th.

West Ham's manager Slaven Bilic looks dejectedIt's a headscratcher for West Ham's manager Slaven Bilic

Bilic faces striker predicament

It leaves Bilic in a real predicament having so far failed to land any of his prime striker targets after bids for Michy Batshuayi, Alexandre Lacazette and Carlos Bacca proved fruitless.

Add in the fact both Enner Valencia and the rebellious Diafra Sakho look likely to be moved on with Lazio and Swansea pursuing the Ecaudorian and Sunderland chasing wantaway Sakho and it is difficult to see where West Ham's goals are going to come from.

The Hammers were dumped out of last year's competition by minnows FC Astra in the same round they enter it this time out so cannot afford to take anything for granted.

West Ham's Andy Carroll in action with Swansea City's Federico FernandezWest Ham's Andy Carroll in action

Carroll popular but a costly luxury

No-one is doubting the target man's work ethic. But it is a story West Ham fans have heard all too often before.

When Carroll was signed on loan from Anfield by Sam Allardyce in 2012, it seemed a match made in heaven. The club even inexplicably wasted more than £10million on flop Matt Jarvis to provide the ammunition for the 6ft 4 star.

Here was a player who cost Liverpool a record £35 million just the year before leading the attack at the Boleyn. Things could not have started much better for the big Geordie as he set up two goals during a towering display in 3–0 home win against Fulham.

But a lengthy injury, two words that have cast a shadow over the 26-year-old's career so far, restricted him to just 24 appearances and seven goals that season.

He made a long awaited comeback in the following February and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Swansea. But in the last game of that season at home to Reading, he was injured yet again.

West Ham co chairmans David Sullivan and David Gold before the matchWest Ham co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold

The benefit of hindsight

Nevertheless the Hammers were unperturbed and pressed ahead with sanctioning an £18 million permanent deal on a six-year contract. It is a deal which outspoken West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has since admitted he wouldn't have done with the benefit of hindsight, as reported by BBC's Football Focus.

Three seasons on, and four long-term injuries later, Carroll has become little more than an expensive bonus for West Ham. He always gives 100% and even told the London Evening Standard last season that he blames his full-blooded approach for the injuries he has suffered.

West Ham's And Carroll applauds their fans after being substitutedWest Ham's And Carroll applauds the fans

Injury record and goal ratio do not make great reading

When he is fit and firing there are not many better all-round forwards in the Premier League. But that is half the problem, he very rarely is.

In the three seasons since making his move to Upton Park permanent, Carroll has made just 56 appearances, scoring 16 goals.

The Hammers are taking the Europa League seriously this season and without him it makes qualifying that bit more difficult, even if the East Londoners should have enough quality to advance without him.

Many West Ham fans have started to give up on the club's most expensive ever signing and Bilic clearly recognises the need to bring in more firepower.

If the Hammers are to better their seventh place finish this season they simply cannot afford to rely on Carroll week in week out.

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