Slaven Bilic admits there may have been some truth in Sam Allardyce’s criticism of Andy Carroll but the West Ham boss has backed the striker’s recent professionalism.
In his autobiography, being serialised in The Sun, former West Ham boss Allardyce questioned Carroll’s dedication during his injury-hit spell at Upton Park.
Current Hammers chief Bilic, who replaced Allardyce in the summer, admitted he was aware of Carroll’s reputation before taking over in east London.
But Bilic insists the 26-year-old, who has made three appearances since finally overcoming a long-term ankle injury, has been a model professional this term.
“I did not have to become West Ham manager to know about Andy Carroll,” said Bilic.
“I heard about that before, that sometimes he got injured because he was not totally dedicated to being a footballer.
“From my first day, he was injured. But the way he was working – in six to eight weeks of struggle that was boring and not ideal and not fun – he did it as a great professional and now we are expecting big benefits out of that.
“Those stories are definite, there is something behind them, they are true. It is very rare that people are making up stories.
“There is something there, but it looks much worse. I don’t want to comment on the stories.
“He’s been out a few times, but his rehabilitation and training, especially in that period, was top class.”
Bilic made Carroll undergo his own mini pre-season, rather than rush him back into the team, in a bid to avoid the frontman breaking down again.
“We tried to explain to him that he needed to work for six weeks and have a pre-season, not to train for 10 days, roll up his sleeves and play the game,” he added.
“He did his time and we should all benefit from that.”
Carroll has shaken off the knock which kept him out of the 2-2 draw at Sunderland a fortnight ago and is fit to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.
He could be joined in the squad by fellow forward Enner Valencia, who was injured during the Europa League tie against Astra Giurgiu in July, and defender Angelo Ogbonna following a hamstring injury.