Andy Carroll has had to travel down a long, hard road to return to fitness after suffering a knee injury in November, so he was delighted that all the hard work came to fruition with the winning goal against Swansea City on Saturday.

The 24-year-old striker played the full 90 minutes against the Swans, on the back of only a 14-minute run out at Fulham the previous Wednesday as he took his first steps towards a first team return.

There were no signs of rustiness in Carroll's play, as he laid on several opportunities for his teammates before finally popping up with the winning goal 13 minutes from time.

The victory lifted the Hammers back up to eleventh in the Barclays Premier League table, and Carroll told whufc.com the result gives him and his team-mates cause for optimism ahead of the final 13 games of the campaign.

What was it like to score your first goal at the Boleyn Ground?

AC: "It's a great feeling to score anywhere, but when you've got the fans behind you like this, signing your name after you've scored, it's even better. Coming off the pitch, man of the match and with three points, it's a great feeling. The fans are great, they got behind us and they were like the 12th man, helping us along. Even when Swansea put the pressure on late in the game, they gave us confidence with the singing and cheering us on. It's great."

Did you surprise yourself how well you got through the game so soon after coming back from injury?

AC: "I've been keeping fit in the gym and all the backroom staff have been helping me. The fitness coaches and physios have been on me, working hard. When I couldn't run I was in the gym and the hard work paid off with 90 minutes on Saturday.

"I didn't find out until the day of the game that I was going to start and obviously I was over the moon with the decision. I just had to work hard, run around and keep the ball as much as I could. It was a tough game and I'm just happy that we got the three points."

Andy Carroll Celebration v Swansea CityHas it been a frustrating season for you so far with the injuries?

AC: "It has. Coming into a new team and getting injured in my first game to put me out for six weeks was frustrating. Then I was back for a couple of games and was out for eight weeks. It's hard when you're injured anyway, but when it's at a new club it's even harder. I've kept my head up as much as possible and worked hard with the physios and fitness coaches to get back and I showed on Saturday that I am fit."

Gerhard Tremmel was playing well on Saturday and made quite a few saves in the Swansea goal. Did it feel like it was going to be one of those days?

AC: "He was on fire, he made a couple of good saves from Kev, and I had a chance too which he blocked. He kept them in it because we pounded the goal. So it was great to score one at the end."

It seemed on Saturday that, before the goal, you'd done everything trying to set people up and you just needed one really good ball to attack.

AC: "Yes, I had a chance earlier on from Jarvis. He put it in, a great ball, and it was unfortunate that I didn't hit the target. But I kept my head up and another great ball came in from Nobes. I made a little movement to get free and I put it in the back of the net. It was a fantastic ball in, we've been working on it and he's put it right where we wanted."

What about the relationship you have on the pitch with the captain? Kevin could have had a hat trick in the first half if it wasn't for the goalkeeper and two of those chances came from your knockdowns.

AC: "He just knows where I am and I know where he is. He's always talking to me and moving off me, like I am with him and it's a good partnership. I really enjoy playing up there with him."

How big do you think these three points are, because results haven't gone your way in recent weeks?

AC: "We've been unlucky with the run of games that we've had. We've had chances to win games which we haven't taken, but we kept at it. All the lads kept their heads in training and it showed on Saturday that everyone wants to get a run going. All the lads are buzzing so it'll be good to go out at Villa, after an eight-day break between games to re-charge, and do exactly what we did today hopefully.

"We've still got to work hard and keep at it to get more points in the games coming up. It's not over by a long shot, we've got to keep training as we've been training, and try to get a run going."

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