Slaven hails AC's A1 attitude

Slaven Bilic


  • Slaven Bilic says Andy Carroll could start his second game of the week against Hull City
  • No9 returned to team for midweek win over Burnley and exceeded expectations by playing 80 minutes
  • West Ham United came through the game injury-free and are seeking back-to-back wins

Slaven Bilic says a ‘very positive’ Andy Carroll could start his second game in four days when Hull City visit London Stadium on Saturday.

The No9 returned to the starting XI for the first time in four months on Wednesday night, helping the Hammers to a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Burnley.

Having had such a long lay-off with a knee injury, Bilic was initially only expecting Carroll to start one game this week, but the No9’s attitude may have convinced the manager to let his centre forward loose on the Tigers from the kick-off.

“To be fair I said after the [Burnley] game he was supposed to play 30 minutes and not to start but to come from the bench, but I spoke to him and he had done enough training and came on a couple of times against Arsenal and Liverpool,” the manager explained.

“Then the plan was for him to play for 60 minutes on Wednesday, but then I asked him at half-time and he was really good and went on until 80 minutes.

“He is very positive and that makes my very positive.”

While Carroll could start up front again, Bilic has been handed a further boost by news that the other ten starters and substitutes came through unscathed and are available to face Hull.

Cheikhou Kouyate returned after a two-game absence, while Aaron Cresswell and Andre Ayew were both impressive as they continue their own comebacks after lengthy injury lay-offs.

“Thank God, from the game against Burnley, the players who played were in on Thursday, but didn’t have a full training session,” he revealed. “They are clear of injuries, all good and should be really good for tomorrow.”

Andy Carroll is very positive and that makes my very positive

Slaven Bilic

Bilic is hoping his players will continue their recent renaissance against their 19th-placed opponents, who have won just one league game since August.

The Hammers have picked up four points since the manager publicly questioned them following a 5-1 home defeat by Arsenal a fortnight ago.

Reflecting on those post-match comments, Bilic has been heartened by the performances he has seen against Liverpool and Burnley so far this week.

“Maybe I was too harsh but I was disappointed, especially as we looked good for 70 minutes and were there in the game, then we crumbled,” he said, alluding to the Gunners game.

“Before that game, suddenly everything looked good and bright, with the performances against Spurs and Manchester United, then against Arsenal we were without four major players – Sakho, Kouyate, Antonio and Cresswell – and it didn’t look good. To have three of them back is a big thing for us.

"Their reaction didn’t surprise me, I expected it because I knew there wasn’t a reason why we played like that. Also some players come back and if you have most of your best players available you can expect good performances and good results."