Carroll closing in on return

first_imgSam Allardyce believes West Ham’s record-signing Andy Carroll could be fit and ready to play again in “two to three weeks”. Carroll is now back in training and the plan is for the 25-year-old to play Under-18 and Under-21 games before returning to first-team action in mid-November. “It’ll be another two to three weeks, if he has no niggles or problems, before we talk about playing him in the team at any level,” Allardyce said. “We’ll try to get him through three or four behind-closed-doors games and if that goes all right then we would hope to have him back. “It’s been a long, hard road again for Andy and one he’s been too familiar with recently, sadly. “Hopefully he’ll have a major impact when he comes back again.” West Ham desperately missed Carroll last year as the Hammers’ lack of goals saw them dragged into a relegation scrap. It has been a different story so far this season, however, as summer signings Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have added some much-needed fire-power up front, pushing Allardyce’s side up to fourth in the table. The former Bolton manager admits the team’s impressive start to the campaign means the club can afford to take extra care over Carroll’s return. The Hammers splashed out £15million to sign Carroll permanently in June 2013 but the England striker has started only 12 Barclays Premier League matches during an injury-ridden 16 months at Upton Park. The powerhouse centre forward missed the first five months of last season with a foot injury and is yet to feature in the current campaign after tearing ankle ligaments on the club’s pre-season tour of New Zealand. “Last time we got him back and he did his ankle but carried on playing so this time round we don’t want to (rush) him,” Allardyce said. “We’re hopefully going to get him back as quick as we can but we’re not going to rush him back because, touch wood, there’s no desperate need at the moment.” Sakho’s pace and finishing has revitalised West Ham’s attacking threat this season, with the Senegalese striker scoring in each of his last six games. Sakho and Valencia were both on target in the 3-1 victory at Burnley last weekend and Allardyce will be hoping for more of the same when the Hammers host Manchester City on Saturday. “From my point of view I thought it would have been a slower process but we wouldn’t have expected Enner Valencia to make such a big contribution either,” Allardyce said. “The pair of them have hit it off together – it’s not just the goalscoring, it’s the energy they give the team which is very important in today’s highly competitive game. “Your energy, intensity and sprinting capabilities are very important today in breaking down defences. “They turned the game for us against Burnley because we weren’t very good in the first half and then two beautiful crosses creates two goals. “That’s what you wish for, that’s what you dream of as a manager in the Premier League.” Press Associationlast_img read more

Practice turnovers mirror recent defensive trends

first_imgTurnover Wednesday finally lived up to its name.After two weeks of USC’s offense taking care of the ball, the Trojans’ defense teed off by notching four turnovers at Wednesday’s practice.Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley threw three interceptions and redshirt junior wide receiver Travon Patterson lost a fumble to highlight an opportunistic day for the defense. Freshman cornerback Torin Harris came down with one of the picks and senior Kevin Thomas had a diving sideline catch that resulted in the cornerback being mobbed by his fellow defensive backs.On cue · Kevin Thomas had one of three interceptions Wednesday. – Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan“It was a good day for the defense,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “I’m glad they were able to turn the ball around.”The performance mirrored the Trojan defense’s recent increase in creating turnovers. In the last two games, USC has had five takeaways.The unit has also registered 21 sacks and is allowing 8.6 points per game, both best in the Pac-10.Carroll said he did not think Wednesday’s results indicated offensive concerns.“Some of the quarterbacks misread coverages on new routes, but there were a couple of really good plays on defense as well,” Carroll said.uWith the midway point of the season rapidly approaching, quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said he was growing more comfortable with allowing Barkley to work with more of the offensive playbook.USC’s coaching staff tried to simplify the attack for the signal-caller but is entrusting him a wider assortment of complex plays.“He’s mastered the book, but we weren’t going to throw the whole book at him in week one,” Bates said. “He’s definitely earned that opportunity now.”Having a more complete arsenal to work with comes as a welcome change for USC’s quarterback.“It just gives you more flexibility,” Bates said. “It spreads things out and puts more pressure on the defense.”Bates said he was pleased with the offense’s development but still hoped to see improvements on third down and in the red zone. The Trojans converted six of 15 third-down opportunities against Cal but had to settle for three field goals when the offense stalled inside the Golden Bears’ 10-yard line.“We’re adding some new plays and changing some concepts,” Bates said. “At the end of the day, we just have to find a way to get it in [the end zone].”uWide receiver Ronald Johnson practiced again Wednesday, but Carroll said he did not think the junior would be at full strength for his expected return next Saturday against Notre Dame.“We have to manage this really well and not overdo it,” Carroll said. “We’re going to limit him until he has a chance to be full speed.”last_img read more