West Ham manager Slaven Bilic was pushing for Tuesday, but he finally got Andy Carroll back into training on Wednesday – and he should be fit for Monday’s tempting clash against Chelsea at the London Stadium on Monday.
The 28-year-old, who has scored four goals in his last four games, has missed West Ham’s league draws against West Bromwich Albion and Watford since then with a groin injury, a reminder how fragile the big man can be.
“Carroll returned to training with the squad on Wednesday after working for the previous four days individually on the pitch,” the club said.
“Andy has barely trained this past month, but Andy has now returned to full training in preparation for Chelsea.”
It has emerged that The Irons have turned down three offers for the hitman from Chinese Super League clubs.
Reports from Sky Sports suggest Tianjin Quanjian, Hebei China Fortune and Shandong Luneng pushed hard for a deal before the Chinese transfer window closed on Tuesday. But he’s not for sale, say the club despite reports that it triggered the prospect of a sale in the first place .
The Time reports that that West Ham wrote to Mark Curtis, the former agent of Carroll, giving him “exclusive authority” to structure a move. The paper reprints a letter which states:
"I [club secretary Andrew Princher] write to confirm you have the exclusive authority of the board of directors to represent West Ham in discussions with football clubs in China in order to explore interest and options for the potential sale and permanent transfer of the registration of Andy Carroll during their first and current transfer window. This exclusive authority shall expire on March 1, 2017.”
It is understood the arrangement was set up should West Ham have landed another striker in the transfer window and be looking to move on Carroll.
Back in an England shirt?
Meanwhile, defender James Collins believes that six goals in 16 appearances for the Hammers, plus his dominance upfront, should earn Carroll a recall to England.
Collins told the club’s website : “A fit Andy Carroll is a handful for any defender. I know if I was playing against him and he was in the opposite team, I’d be in for a tough afternoon. It gives England something different.
“What Andy can do; I’ve never trained against a lad or played against a lad who is as physical and as good in the air as Andy, so I think it’s a no brainer for him to be in the squad as something different to what they’re used to.”
However, he’s not the club’s top scorer – that accolade falls to fan favourite Michail Antonio who will be out the picture with a one-game suspension after he picked up a red card in last weekend’s draw at Watford.
West Ham will be looking to repeat the 2-1 victory at Stratford that put the champions-elect out of the League Cup – but they’ll still go into the game underdogs against a team with a 10-point cushion at the top of the league standings.
It’s not out the question. Collins said: “We beat them at our place in the Cup so it shows they’ve got to come to us. Confidence is high at the minute.”
Less so at the bookies, which have the Blues odds-on to win at the London Stadium, 3-1 the draw.
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook