West Ham striker Andy Carroll has targeted an injury-free campaign and an England recall heading into the new Premier League season.
After years of fitness struggles the 27-year-old has enjoyed a full pre-season for the first time since he moved to east London and proved he is fit and firing with two goals in the Hammers’ friendly against Juventus.
And with Sam Allardyce, the man who brought him to West Ham in 2012, now in charge of the national side, an in-form Carroll must surely be in with a chance of a call-up for September’s opening World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.
“Obviously England is right in my head,” he said. “I want to be back in the England shirt, but I can’t get there just on the manager being my old manager at West Ham.
“I think it would be unfair to even think that. I’ve just got to work hard at training, listen to the staff here, play the games I play, score goals and create chances and hopefully he will pick me. Nothing is a guarantee.
“Obviously he knows what I am capable of, in and out of training and in games, that’s nice to know. But for me I have to just carry on playing for West Ham as best as I can and hopefully push myself in.”
Italian champions Juve ran out 3-2 winners in the match to mark the official opening of West Ham’s London Stadium thanks to strikes from Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Simone Zaza, but it was Carroll who caught the eye with two trademark towering headers helping him claim a brace.
The former Newcastle and Liverpool frontman says he has finally learned to rein in his combative style of play on the training pitch in order to stay fit – thanks to a word in his ear from fiancee Billi Mucklow.
“My missus got on my case,” he revealed. ‘It started at home, I had to listen to her. When she set the ball rolling it was like ‘oh yeah, I’ve got to listen’. And obviously it’s worked.
“There a lot of people who have tried to drill it into my head for three or four years now and I haven’t really listened. So it’s about time I started listening and doing what they were saying in training and out of training.
“You know, take it easy in training, because for my second goal I took out about four players, even my own players – and in training I do that as well, so that’s not very good for me or for our players. So I just have to listen to people and take it easy.”