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Bilic welcomes return of "key" man


Filed: Monday, 6th March 2017
By: Staff Writer


Slaven Bilic says he is "optimistic" that the returning Andy Carroll will be fit enough to face Chelsea at the Olympic Stadium tonight.

Bilic, whose side dropped out of the top half of the Premier League over the weekend is determined to emulate United's 2-1 EFL Cup win over the Blues last October - and is naturally delighted that he is likely to be able to call upon "key" player Carroll.

"We have Andy back in the squad tonight which is a big boost for us," Bilic told West Ham's website. "Particularly as we will be without Michail [Antonio] after his red card at Watford.

"It means a lot to have him available. We have done well without him available but with him we may well have done even better. He is one of our key players. It will be great to have him on a pitch tonight and I am optimistic that he will be fit to be involved.

"You know how much I rate him and how much we rate him. We are not a one-man team though. We have a great squad and we are playing good, so we go into the game with confidence that we can do something good."




Meanwhile Chelsea boss Antonio Conte - who saw his team's lead at the top of the table cut to seven points following the weekend's results - believes tonight's London derby will prove to be a stern test.

"This game against West Ham is very important for us," he told Chelsea's website.

"In the last game they played very well against us. Maybe it can happen again, against West Ham tonight, but for that reason we are preparing for this kind of situation. It will be a really tough game."





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