Tony Cottee knows a thing or two about scoring goals in a West Ham shirt. The Hammers legend managed to bang in 146 net-busters in two spells during his career at Upton Park, so any comment he makes on the subject should be noted.

Indeed Cottee, who also had a distinguished spell at Everton and represented England on seven occasions, sits in fifth position of the club’s all-time leading goal scorers (behind luminaries such as Vic Watson, Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Ruffell, and John Dick).

So when Cottee says that Slaven Bilic’s team need a fit, resurgent and in-form Andy Carroll leading the line when they host league leaders Chelsea on Monday night, then that is probably the case. And Cottee, a self-confessed West Ham supporter, says that his former side need Carroll to play if they are to have any chance whatsoever of beating Antonio Conte’s Premier League title favourites.

Reports suggest that Bilic will have the luxury of Carroll’s services for the keenly anticipated match at the London Stadium; and with Michail Antonio missing from the starting line-up through suspension it is a good job.

And Cottee says that Carroll’s appearance on Monday could also benefit another player still trying to make his name at the club.

Looking ahead to the game against the Blues, while also reflecting on the 1-1 draw in the last top flight outing at Watford, Cottee said: “West Ham let in yet another early goal at Watford on Saturday, but I think they deservedly fought back and if anything they could have won the match.

“Andre Ayew came on and coolly taped home their equaliser and that was good to see, but when I look at him I wonder what his best position is. If Andy Carroll is playing then he could play just behind him, but with Michail Antonio I am not so sure.”

Cottee states that the Hammers paid big bucks for Ayew (the club handed Swansea City more than £20million for his services in the summer) and believes the attacker should be making more of an impact given his transfer fee.

And Cottee added: “With Antonio suspended, we need Carroll back if we are to have a 
realistic chance against the leaders. There is still a chance that Chelsea can be caught this season in the Premier League title race, but they are just so consistent and that has been their secret all season.”