Andy Carroll insists he is on course for a return to action within a couple of weeks despite yet another set back scare.
We shall see.
One thing seems clear West Ham can no longer keep on “Waiting for Andy”.
Brian Clough had a strong view on injured or recovering players .Cloughie didn’t talk about them and he didn’t want them anywhere near the first team squad until they were ready to return.
Jose Mourinho adopts a similar attitude.
It may sound harsh especially in this uber sensitive world in which we now live but the approach makes a lot of sense.
A team can lose focus if it constantly pines for an out of action player. Moreover that thought process can also undermine the belief of those players who have come into replace the injured ones.
So in that sense the only time to start talking about Andy Carroll is when he’s back out there on the pitch in the thick of the action. The constant saga of rehabilitation bulletins and target dates for his return are tiresome and should be irrelevant.
But as it stands I just wonder whether the “Carroll Situation” is actually affecting the recruitment of a striker.
Could it be that at the back of the minds of the manager and owners that they don’t really want to go out and spend a lot of money (in West Ham terms) on a player who, if Carroll does indeed return soon , stay fits and plays like the dominant centre forward he can be , then that new recruit suddenly becomes an expensive “reserve” ?
Or indeed do potential targets look at the situation and wonder what their role would be if Carroll comes back, given there is also Diafra Sakho about and down the line Enner Valencia to return ?
In both cases that is why Carroll should now be taken out of the equation, almost written off, and if he does return then it should be seen as a bonus.
After all given his record even if Carroll is back in action soon, will he stay fit for the long term and will he still be the force he was ?
It is, if you like,the Carroll Conundrum.
Besides if he does actually come back soon, even given the extra dimension he offers , and on his day AC can be almost playable, he is not a prolific goal scorer. And that is what this West Ham team needs right now.
With a sharp shooter the Hammers could well have come back from 2-0 down and won, say 3-2, against Leicester last week given their second half dominance. But failure to exploit openings in the final third meant it was a 2-1 defeat despite an impressive rally.
In the midweek QPR were 2-0 down at Wolves but won 3-2 a come back sparked by a certain Charlie Austin.
Given the Carroll experience it’s easy to understand West Ham’s reservations about spending £15 million on Austin but personally I would have gone for it.
After all he lasted the distance last season and scored 18 goals in a struggling team.
In a West Ham team he could be the 20 goal a season plus striker The Hammers haven’t had since Tony Cottee.
Austin will end up in the PL soon , perhaps at a West Brom, the sort of club West Ham need to be better than.
So who ? Well Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez would be good and could yet happen.
As for the long list of “targets” from the continent the concern is how long will it take them to adapt to the PL.
On that basis there is perhaps a solution that would require many Hammers fans to let by gones be bygones, because given Carroll complication , could well be the ideal.
One of the English games great goal poachers of the last decade or so , has it has been reported, been angling for a move from Sunderland because he is not being played in his natural position through the middle.
At 32 Jermain Defoe still knows where the goal is and could just be the right, and affordable fit, to become the fox in the box West Ham need ……with or without Andy Carroll.