Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Running Joke Is on Its Last Legs as Lead Role Beckons for Carroll

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Running Joke Is on Its Last Legs as Lead Role Beckons for Carroll

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

[bar] T should be appropriate that England's most expensive footballer leads the line at Euro 2012 were it not for the fact Andy Carroll has spent much of the season as a laughing stock.

Type 'Andy Carroll' into Google and the word that immediately accompanies his name is 'jokes'.

"The FA have brought in a new ruling -- anyone found passing to Andy Carroll will automatically receive a yellow card for time-wasting," reads one such example.

Roy Hodgson spoke last night about Carroll having the right "profile" after naming the Liverpool striker in his 23-man squad for this summer's finals.

Carroll, however, has been in the spotlight for a number of off-field incidents, usually alcohol-induced, that betray a lack of professionalism at odds with his [pounds sterling]35million price tag. Yet the 23-year-old has shown signs of progress following a difficult first full season at Anfield, most notably in two performances against Chelsea in which he bullied John Terry.

"Let's hope John has learned from that," said Hodgson, although Terry has plenty to occupy his mind after becoming the most controversial inclusion in the squad as he awaits trial for a racially aggravated public order offence.

Hodgson's decision to take only four strikers, combined with Wayne Rooney's suspension, significantly enhances the chance of Carroll, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck getting significant Group D game time.

The England coach's preference for a target man makes it a straight choice between Welbeck and Carroll but with the former struggling with injury, there appears an obvious opportunity for the Liverpool player to stake his claim by starting the friendly against Norway on May 26.

"It's hard for players who go to big clubs," said Hodgson. "It's more important how he's feeling at the moment. I shouldn't be confronting him with the failures of the early part of the season.

I should be encouraging him for the successes of the latter part.

"But I hope I'm not selecting players on the basis of going to a game one day, seeing him have a great game and giving him an England shirt.

"I'd like to think I've been in the game long enough not to fall for that trick. …

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