Type the name of West Ham United striker Andy Carroll into any search engine and you will be greeted with page after page chronicling various failing parts of his body.
You will also find a few more describing those all too rare days when he was fit enough to terrorise defences for club and country.
A torn knee ligament, and surgery next Tuesday, means there will be no more of those this season for the man who cost West Ham a club record £16m to sign from Liverpool in 2013. Past history suggests Carroll’s recovery time will be anything but speedy. “The recovery phase is expected to keep Carroll out for the remainder of the 2014-15 season,” a club statement said.
It is a familiar tale of woe. When Carroll made his loan move permanent in the summer before last, he spent the first half of the season sidelined with a foot injury more commonly associated with ballerinas. On returning he scored just twice in 16 appearances.
Before the start of this season, Carroll injured his ankle on a pre-season tour of New Zealand and needed surgery in the United States that kept him out until November.
There had been signs he was returning to the form that persuaded Liverpool to pay Newcastle United £35m for his services as a replacement for Chelsea-bound Fernando Torres in 2011. He scored twice against Swansea City in a rare display of old-fashioned centre-forward play and managed five goals in his 16 appearances this season until his curse struck again.
This time an innocuous-looking tussle with a Southampton defender in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw was all it took.
“We thought we were there with his fitness but at Liverpool and now Southampton, it’s a concern for us all,” said the West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce, who had hoped to build a team around Carroll. “Obviously, it is very depressing for Andy but he knows the process of recovery. He’s knows he has to be very strong.”
In better news for the Hammers, goalkeeper Adrian has had a one-match ban overturned and will be available for this lunchtime’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at West Bromwich Albion today.
Adrian was sent off for handling the ball outside his area after losing control of a back pass when put under pressure by Southampton’s Saido Mané on Wednesday. The Football Association ruled that Adrian had not denied a goalscoring opportunity.
His dismissal led to a mêlée between the two teams. West Ham were yesterday charged with failing to ensure players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion after the Spanish goalkeeper was shown the red card.
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