Sunderland 1 West Ham 2: Sam Allardyce left to ponder what could have been as Andy Carroll strikes once again

Carroll's injury woes have been well documented but striker netted the opening goal in the victory over the Black Cats

West ham boss Sam Allardyce was left to reflect on how things might have been had Andy Carroll been fit all season after a significant victory at Sunderland.

The 25-year-old England striker's second goal of the season set the Hammers on their way to a win which lifted them 11 points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone and at the same time, plunged the Black Cats into ever deeper trouble.

Carroll's towering ninth-minute header gave the visitors a lead they never surrendered, although it was Mohamed Diame's 50th-minute strike which ultimately proved decisive as substitute Adam Johnson struck to prompt a late, if ultimately unsuccessful, fightback.

Allardyce said: "It's a bit scary to think where we might be if we'd had Andy all season. We didn't have him all season last season and finished 10th; we have had him even less this season.

 

"We are now 11th, we are one point behind our last year total, so we have 37 points and this time last year, we had 38, we have had our best run of results since we have been back in the Premier League.

"Since Andy and the other players got fit - and I always said coming on the back of January, 'Once our players are all fit, watch out, we will be okay, we will win football matches'.

"The form we are showing at the moment is proving that. It's been an outstanding run from the players and an outstanding achievement."

By contrast, Sunderland, who had strong appeals for a first-half penalty waved away, find themselves four points adrift of safety with eight games to play, the next of them at Tottenham next Monday night, a day of the week on which they have not won a game in 12 years.

But head coach Gus Poyet, who admitted he may have made a mistake in starting with Johnson on the bench, is refusing to give up on the mission he accepted back in October when he inherited a team with just a single point to its name.

He said: "What I believe is I need to convince the players to keep doing it and defend this club to the end, to the last minute, try their best.

"If everybody does the same, who goes down? The three worst teams in the league, because you try your best and you can be the worst.

"But you need to try your best, give it your best shot and play the best way you can play. It hurts, yes, it's sad, yes."

He added with a wry smile: "I didn't even know until this morning that we hadn't won a game on Monday for I don't know how many years.

"Thank you to the TV for putting another game on Monday next week, it very nice. Why don't they change the last seven and put them on Monday as well?"

Read More: Sunderland 1 West Ham 2 match report

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