Slaven Bilic believes both West Ham and England can benefit from Andy Carroll’s return to fitness following his match winner against Chelsea.
In front of England manager Roy Hodgson, Carroll climbed off the bench to meet Aaron Cresswell’s 79th-minute cross with a towering header for his first goal since January as West Ham beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park on Sunday.
Bilic put Carroll through his own personal pre-season once he had recovered from his latest injury, in a bid to stop him breaking down again, and he now feels West Ham – and England – will reap the rewards.
“Andy is a big player for us, and also for England,” the Hammers manager said. “He is special.
“He gives us a lot of options. It’s not just long balls, he is a great player, his quality has never been in doubt. We just needed to get him fit
“Now we are in a really good situation with that and he should be fit long-term. Then West Ham and possibly England should have a great benefit.”
Mauro Zarate fired West Ham ahead before Nemanja Matic was shown a second yellow card, prompting a furious reaction from Chelsea’s first-team coach Silvino Louro and a half-time exchange between Jose Mourinho and referee Jonathan Moss.
Gary Cahill equalised for the 10 men,West but Mourinho, banished from the dug-out along with Louro, cut a lonely figure in the West Ham directors’ box as everyone around him celebrated Carroll’s winner, capping a memorable afternoon which lifted the Hammers up to third in the Premier League.
“It’s a great feeling to score any goal, but obviously it has been a long time since I last scored,” Carroll told the club website. “To get the win as well is even better.
“When I saw the ball come across I knew I had a chance to put it in and as soon as it went in it was a feeling like you really can’t describe. It might be a typical Andy Carroll goal, but I’ll take it.
“I just want to be on the pitch and if it’s 20 or 25 minutes it’s a great feeling. Obviously I want to start, but it’s been a long injury and long time so I’ll take every minute I get.”