Andy Carroll says wantaway Dimitri Payet has united the West Ham dressing room after helping the Hammers to back-to-back wins.
The Hammers were rocked by the news that their star man wanted to go earlier this month, but Slaven Bilic’s side have responded in the best possible way by registering Premier League victories over Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough without him.
Carroll has been at the centre of that, scoring a stunning volley in a 3-0 demolition of Palace and then helping himself to a double on Saturday as his side claimed a 3-1 victory at the Riverside Stadium to dispel memories of a difficult start to the campaign.
The 28-year-old striker told the club’s official website, www.whufc.com: “I think the lads have come together even stronger recently with everything that’s going on and you can see on the pitch everyone is working together, putting the grit in and that’s when the points come.
“The morale in the dressing room is fantastic. All the lads are having a laugh before and it’s great to be around. Everyone wants to work for the manager and it’s brilliant.
“It was tough at the beginning of the season, but we came out of that and we’re just thinking about each game as it comes.”
Carroll opened the scoring with a thunderous ninth-minute header from Manuel Lanzini’s corner, and after Cristhian Stuani had levelled, struck again from close range when keeper Victor Valdes could only parry Michail Antonio’s powerfully-struck shot.
Substitute Jonathan Calleri completed the job in stoppage time with his first goal for the club, a shot which deflected in off Adam Clayton, but not before the former Newcastle and Liverpool man had limped off with a groin problem.
However Carroll, who had been a doubt because of a whiplash injury, later revealed his premature departure was purely precautionary.
He said: “My groin was a little bit tight so we didn’t want to risk anything. I didn’t train all week and I was a little bit stiff, so maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s a bit tight. But I’m all good and looking forward to the next game.
“I feel good. I’m working hard and hopefully a lot more goals will come. I thrive on great balls in like that and I always try my best to get on the end of it.
“We’ve got 10 days until the next game, so we’ll rest up and look forward to that.”