FIT-AGAIN West Ham star Andy Carroll insists he will treat Saturday’s game against Newcastle United the same as any other – despite admitting it will be a “nostalgic” occasion for him.
The striker made his first appearance of the season at the weekend with a cameo in the Hammers’ crucial 2-0 win away to Cardiff.
Carroll had been sidelined since the end of last season with a foot injury, which delayed his bow for the Hammers after joining them permanently in a £16million move from Liverpool in the summer.
But now the Gateshead-born striker is determined to make up for lost time – starting against his boyhood club Newcastle this weekend.
Carroll left the Magpies for Liverpool in January 2011 in a British record £35m deal.
He has faced his old club on five occasions since, however, and has tried to play down the significance of Saturday’s Upton Park showdown, instead focusing on just getting some much-needed minutes under his belt.
“I just want to forget about the past months with the injury and just look forward to playing more football for West Ham,” he said. “I can’t stand being on the sidelines. It drives me crazy.
“I tried my best to try and get back to be fit. It was prolonged and I got injured again.
“So it was disappointing but I am back now so I am concentrating on getting match fit. It was really fantastic to be back out there on Saturday.
“Hopefully I get a few more minutes against Newcastle and we get a win this Saturday, too.
“Yes, of course, it is nostalgic for me, it is my home town, but I am just looking forward to it really, to play again.
“I am just over the moon about a game coming up as I have been out for too long, so it is fantastic to be back. It has been a massive nightmare, to be honest. I went off to Belgium and then to Holland, to fix it (the injury), but now I am feeling really good and all I want to do is play football.”
The 25-year-old is likely to start on the bench again on Saturday, but West Ham have received a striker boost with Carlton Cole penning a new 18-month contract yesterday.
Cole returned to the club on a short-term agreement in October, having originally been released last summer, and he has done enough to earn a longer extension.
Cole said: “I’ve always believed that I can score goals and that’s the main thing as a striker, you want to score goals and help the team win. That’s what I’m here to do and hopefully I’ll get more chances to do that.
“I’ve never said that I’ve got targets but I have my own targets in my head. Hopefully I can get to where I want to get to. First and foremost, it’s all about Premier League survival, we’re down there fighting it out and we just need to stay up and then work from there next season.”
Despite offering Cole a new deal, boss Sam Allardyce is likely to continue his pursuit of Monaco forward Lacina Traore, with a move for Inter Milan’s Ishak Belfodil seemingly dead in the water.