Andy Carroll has been challenged to prove he deserves a new deal by Manuel Pellegrini with the West Ham striker’s current £90,000-a-week contract expiring in six months.
Marko Arnautovic’s hamstring injury will see the Austrian sidelined until 2019 and Carroll’s substitute cameo against Cardiff on Tuesday night was his first appearance since last May.
West Ham have the option to extend Carroll’s contract by two years but are yet to decide whether to keep the 29-year-old, who turns 30 in January.
His recent ankle injury ruled him out for four months and Pellegrini is set to give the striker chances to impress from the bench, starting tomorrow against Crystal Palace.
‘When you need to renew your contract, you must demonstrate why they are renewing your contract,’ Pellegrini said yesterday.
‘We know what Andy can give to our team and now he must demonstrate he is able to do it week by week. He has now the last six months (of his contract) and I hope he will be able to do it.’
On Carroll’s role in the side, whether a potential starter or a Plan B substitute, Pellegrini continued: ‘If he can work in the normal way, of course he can be an option to start in our XI.
‘Not only Andy Carroll but every player can be a starter when they work the whole week and week by week. For the moment, I think he can be a very important substitute.
‘We know what he can give to our team. Near the box, he is dangerous. All the other defenders must be worried when they see Andy near their box.’
Arnautovic, West Ham’s joint top scorer, was forced off in the 3-1 win over Cardiff and scans yesterday confirmed he will be out until at least January.
‘He is a top player with a lot of power, he always asks different things,’ Pellegrini said. ‘But we have other names and it’s the moment for them to demonstrate why they are here.’
Jack Wilshere missed the match against Cardiff because of an ankle complaint and will also be absent against Palace.
Meanwhile, West Ham are planning to hand Samir Nasri a short-term contract at the end of the month after being left impressed by his performances in training. The 31-year-old can only play from January 1 onward because of a doping ban.