Roy Hodgson gives Andy Carroll hope of comeback
Roy Hodgson has told Andy Carroll he can win his place back in the England squad if he hits the ground running next season.
Deep in the bowels of the Stadion Stozice in Ljubljana on Sunday night, Hodgson was reminiscing about the role Carroll played during the first few months of his reign as England manager.
When asked whether Jack Wilshere's second stunning goal in the 3-2 win over Slovenia was the best goal of his tenure, Carroll's name suddenly popped into his head.
"I'd have to put all the goals before me (before making a judgement), but I remember Andy Carroll's header," Hodgson said.
The goal Hodgson was referring to was the one he scored in England's second Euro 2012 group game against Sweden.
Carroll rose to beat his marker in the centre of the box and nodded in Steven Gerrard's pin-point cross to set England on their way to a vital 3-2 win.
Since the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, Carroll has played just 62 minutes of international football.
He came off at half-time during England's post-Euro 2012 friendly against Italy in Berne and made a brief cameo off the bench in the 5-0 win over San Marino on October 12, 2012.
The 26-year-old was in and out of the England squad for the next two seasons and despite repeated calls from then-Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, Carroll was left out of Hodsgon's World Cup squad last year as the former Fulham manager opted for Rickie Lambert instead.
After another injury-plagued season, Carroll (pictured) was never mentioned as a possible contender for a call-up, but Hodgson would accept the towering forward back into the fold, despite fears England would revert to long-ball tactics with the former Newcastle man in the starting XI.
"I don't close doors," Hodgson said when asked about the possibility of a recall for Carroll.
"Rickie did a very good job for us, Charlie Austin has been with us and I am not going to be so hung up where I say: 'unless you are a certain type of footballer there is no chance for you'.
"If Andy can recapture his form, you know how much of a handful he is as a player, so who knows? He could quite easily become a player we look at."
"That is up to him. He has been very unfortunate with injuries, I can only hope he can recover from his injuries in the same way that Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere have."
Whether Carroll is up to the task remains to be seen.
He scored just five goals in 16 appearances last term.
A change of scenery may do him good. Newcastle are among a number of clubs said to be eyeing up a move for the 6ft 3in striker.
But, as Hodgson points out, Carroll faces stiff competition. A couple of years ago, Hodgson was bemoaning the lack of strikers available to him, but now he is blessed with several options.
Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are all certainties when fully fit, Theo Walcott is doing his chances no harm as a striker with his form for Arsenal, and there are three goal scorers who are ready to step up from the Under-21 squad.
Saido Berahino and Danny Ings scored 25 Premier League goals between them last season and Hodgson confirmed Harry Kane would have been in the senior squad for the games against Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland had he not gone to the European Under-21 Championship.
Austin also appears to have a future with England despite failing to make his debut this month.
"Charlie has shown us in training that he has qualities, but I can't guarantee players a game when they get called up."
Hodgson says he cannot guarantee a call up to any youngster who impresses in the Czech Republic either.
"The field is open as long as they realise this group here is doing pretty well so it's not just a question of: 'well you have played well for the Under-21s, you had a good tournament you will automatically be there' because it's going to be hard for me to throw some of these out to make way for them," the England manager said.
John Stones, Luke Shaw and Kane will be called up for the next double-header against San Marino and Switzerland, provided they avoid injury this summer, Hodgson added.