Slaven Bilic has spoken regarding Andy Carroll’s apparent lack of work ethic as a footballer.

The Hammers boss says he knew about the stories before joining the London club, but since he has, Carroll has been “a great professional”.

I didn’t have to become West Ham manager to know Andy Carroll. I heard about that before because sometimes he gets injured because he was not totally dedicated to his football. These are the stories from my first day.

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The Croat acknowledges the rumours but was unwilling to criticise his striker during the ‘6-8 weeks’ he’s been in charge.

He was injured when I came here but the way he has been working in these six-eight weeks when you have to struggle individually which is boring and not ideal type of fun. But he has done it as a great professional and now we are expecting big benefits out of that.

Bilic wasn’t naive, however. He was open regarding the fact there’s often no smoke without fire.

The people are talking – those stories, there is definitely something behind them. They are true stories. It is very rare that people are making up stories – there has got to be something there. But people take 10% here, 10% there and it looks much worse.

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Carroll began the season injured and has already been injured again since recovering from that. It sounds like the Englishman won’t be involved anytime soon, though, as Bilic wants him to recuperate properly.

Me, the staff and the medical staff tried to explain to him that he needs to work for six weeks. A kind of pre-season – not to train for 10 days with the team and then roll up his sleeves and then play the game.

West Ham play travel to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon, where they hope to continue their positive away form.