Slaven Bilic says Andy Carroll’s threat will only grow with the amount of time he spends on the pitch.
The centre forward again led the line in Saturday’s goalless Premier League draw at West Bromwich Albion, where he unleashed three of West Ham United’s six goal attempts.
And Bilic believes the No9, who returned to action in the home win over Huddersfield Town after four months on the sidelines with a hip problem, will get sharper and stronger as he gets more game-time minutes under his belt.
It is very important for Andy to get the games under his belt. He looks good now, touch wood
“Andy is always a threat and he was good in the air and also with stopping the balls and laying it off to the flanks,” said the manager. We put a lot of balls in where he couldn’t find a position to get a clean header, which is also down to West Brom, because they are known to defend well from those situations.
“It is very important for him to get the games under his belt. He looks good now, touch wood. This was his second game and he looks fit and he looks competitive and the quality will come through the games. It’s a big boost for us and hopefully long may it continue.
“He looked unhappy [to come off] but we have quality players on the bench and we changed the whole three up front because, as I said, we had Ayew, Arnautovic and Sakho, and I was very happy with the way they kept the shape, defended and pressed.
“We wanted to score a goal, which is why we put three quality players up front.”
While Carroll led the line with typical determination, he was upstaged by a truly audacious strike from Pedro Obiang, which was the width of the crossbar away from winning the game for the Hammers.
The Spaniard allowed the ball to roll across his body just inside the West Brom half before opening up and curling a wicked, dipping 45-yard effort that beat Ben Foster and cannoned back off the woodwork.
“It was special quality from Pedro,” his manager observed. “That was great individual skill and great vision that he noted that Foster was out from the line a little bit and it was a great strike, of course, and he deserved a goal for that wonderful piece of skill.
“Unfortunately, it did not go in for him, because it would have been a magnificent strike.”