Can Andy rise to the World Cup challenge?

With the World Cup edging ever closer, there have been questions raised about whether Andy Carroll can secure a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad

With the World Cup edging ever closer, there have been questions raised about whether Andy Carroll can secure a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad It’s no secret that Roy Hodgson is likely to carry on the English tactical stereotype and take a ‘big man’ to Brazil.

A strong, traditional centreforward who can cause havoc in the opposition half by knocking the ball on for team mates, holding up play or battering the ball into the goal. A player who can come off the bench and win aerial balls, providing a different plan of attack and helping to defend set pieces. The question is, who to take? It seems likely to be a duel between Southampton’s Rickie Lambert and our very own Andy Carroll.

There are strong arguments for the inclusion of either player. Rickie Lambert has risen from the lower leagues of English football, showing a strong dedication to his craft despite numerous setbacks. This is a man with a fairy tale story, who has had a meteoric rise to the top of the game. For instance, after being released from Blackpool, the Liverpudlian was without a club for four months and worked in a beetroot bottling plant to support himself.

He deserves his self-made success and his tale is a testament to his ‘never-saydie’ attitude, so often witnessed by the St Mary’s faithful on the pitch. As comfortable with the ball at his feet as in the air, Lambert has an incredible eye for goal and a natural ability to finish, which has enabled him to hit the back of the net time after time in every league he has played in. In addition to this, his unselfishness allows him to assist almost as many goals as he scores.

And, according to the bookies, he is edging the battle over Carroll for that plane ticket to Brazil. Carroll needs to rise to this challenge, quite literally. Rickie Lambert has set the bar high. At the moment it is difficult to argue for Carroll’s inclusion. This is partly because of the lack of games he has played this season and his proneness to injury, but mainly because of the broad range of qualities of the man he is up against.

With questions being raised throughout his career over how seriously Carroll takes his job, it’s time for him now to step up and prove the doubters wrong. West Ham fans have seen flickers of greatness, particularly last season, but will be hoping for a better return on the club’s colossal investment

Impressive in the Euros, Carroll has proven he can cope at international level, whereas Lambert is yet to play in a major tournament for his country. Carroll’s goal against Sweden in the competition will live long in the memory of most England fans; an unstoppable bullet header from near the penalty spot that flew into the bottom left corner of the goal. If there was ever a greater piece of evidence that a player has a devastating ability in the air I’m yet to see it.

However, past successes will not entitle him to a place in the squad, and he needs to pick up his form immediately – and this can only be good news for West Ham fans. It’s time for big Andy to show us – and hopefully, the world – that he’s a stallion, not a donkey!

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