Bilic - Late decision on Carroll


Slaven Bilic has revealed he will hand late fitness tests to influential trio Andy Carroll, Cheikhou Kouyate and Aaron Cresswell ahead of the game against West Brom on Saturday.

All three players have missed training in the early part of the week, but the West Ham manager said that Cresswell and Kouyate were expecting to resume training on Thursday after they picked up slight knocks during the 3-1 win over Southampton.

Carroll came off early in the second half at St Mary's Stadium after he felt a slight groin problem and Bilic remains hopeful that he will be able to resume training on Friday.

After scoring four goals in his last four games, the Hammers boss knows the importance of seeing Carroll declaring his fitness for the game at London Stadium.

Bilic said: “We have a few players who have not trained this week and we will see on Friday. Kouyate, Carroll and Cresswell have not trained.

“Kouyate and Cresswell will train on Thursday and we will see on Friday about Andy.

“Andy is in good form and has been great for us. He felt his groin and we didn't want to take a risk so we will make a decision on Friday on whether he will be available for Saturday.

“It is not something major because if it was bigger it would rule him out of the game. It is still open and is not a big injury. Basically it is very similar to the one he had against Middlesbrough and he played after that.

“There is no point talking about a percentage and hopefully he will train on Friday and we will make a decision for Saturday.”

Bilic says he would have no problems naming Carroll in the starting line-up despite his lack of training in the build-up to the game and feels they have found the right balance in maintaining his fitness.

Bilic added: “This is the only week he has not trained with us since he came back from injury that ruled him out for a long time.

“He has basically trained 80 to 90 per cent of the training sessions we have had and for me that is the key.

“You have to find a balance for every player, especially Andy who has had a history of injuries. The players have to train to stay fit and to prevent injuries.

“If the player is match fit and has trained for a few weeks there is no harm if they rest for the whole week. I know there have been examples of players who never trained and just played like Ledley King, but they are one-offs.

“But players need to train to avoid injuries.”

Carroll's impressive form in recent weeks has certainly not gone un-noticed and there has been talk of a potential call-up to the England squad for the forthcoming friendly against Germany and the World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania at the end of March.

Bilic has no doubts that Carroll would take even more confidence from a recall to the national team, but insists he has had no conversations with England boss Gareth Southgate.

“It is always good for us and the player to be called up. It is the biggest proof that they are in good form especially when it happens to a mature player like Andy and he would take that as a big boost of confidence.

“I have not spoken to him (Gareth Southgate) about it. We spoke last year when he was manager of the U21s but I have not spoken to him about Andy since he took over.”