COMMENT By Will Butcher
Slaven Bilic should risk Andy Carroll from the start as West Ham look to secure a place in the EFL Cup semi finals against Manchester United.
The 27-year-old target man has been sidelined for more than three months after picking up a knee injury in August during a Europa League play-off match against Astra Giurgiu.
Now, the England international has returned to training and is in contention to be chosen to lead the Hammers’ attack against Jose Mourinho’s United.
With Mourinho’s centre-back options still not filling fans with confidence, Carroll’s aerial prowess and strength could be the perfect attributes to cause hesitation and danger in the United back line.
Either Marcos Rojo or Daley Blind are likely to feature at the heart of the United defence, but neither are known for that ability in the air and the former Liverpool and Newcastle forward could capitalise on that.
Carroll, a £15million signing back in June 2013, should start from the off and play for at least an hour, as West Ham’s strikeforce continue to stutter in front of goal.
Diafra Sakho returned from injury on Sunday by scoring against Wednesday’s opponents in the league, and simultaneously became the first recognised striker to score in claret and blue this season.
Simone Zaza, Andre Ayew, Ashley Fletcher and Jonathan Calleri have all failed to find the net throughout the season. After nine goals last season, West Ham’s number nine could rediscover the goalscoring touch currently missing from Bilic’s side.
With Aaron Cresswell able to deliver pinpoint crosses into the opposition box from the left, Carroll could get on the end of a cross and secure a place at Wembley in the semi finals of the EFL Cup.
In other West Ham team news, this is the best possible side to face United on Wednesday night.