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Big Sam plotting Crouch capture as Carroll cover at West Ham?

West Ham United, 13/5 for a top 10 Premier League finish, have reportedly turned their attentions to experienced Stoke City centre forward Peter Crouch, as manager Sam Allardyce seeks cover for injured record signing Andy Carroll.

Big Sam knows England international target man Carroll, 25, will miss four months of the season with a serious ankle problem, and had previously expressed in interest in free agent Samuel Eto’o, following the Cameroon captain’s release from Chelsea. The 33-year-old’s wage demands were too high for the Hammers board, however, so now they are looking at alternatives.

Crouch boasts a wealth of Premier League experience, having scored over 100 top-flight goals for Aston Villa, Southampton, Portsmouth, Tottenham and the Potters. The ex-England international has been consistently linked with joining former boss Harry Redknapp at old club QPR, though, but scotched rumours of a return, because his family are settled near Stoke.

If the Hoops are thus unable to lure him back to London, then West Ham are likely to be frustrated in any pursuit. Allardyce has already signed two new forward options this summer in Ecuador’s World Cup star Enner Valencia and Argentine attacker Mauro Zarate. Carlton Cole remains on the books at Upton Park too.

Other summer arrivals at the east London outfit include highly-rated Ipswich Town left back Aaron Cresswell and midfielder Diego Poyet, the son of Sunderland boss Gus.

The Hammers board responded to widespread dissatisfaction from fans last season with playing style and tactics, however, by insisting Big Sam sends the team out with attacking intent this term. Co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold have brought Teddy Sheringham in as a striker coach and also set Allardyce the target of a top 10 finish.

Odds on Big Sam achieving this brief were lengthened to the above price when Carroll sustained ankle ligament damage in pre-season training. Consequently, West Ham have been cut to 4/1 in the Premier League relegation betting market.