Arsenal legend Ian Wright is endorsing underachieving Liverpool striker Andy Carroll as the new hitman for England after his virtuoso performance in the friendly against Norway.
Carroll’s pass set up strike partner Ashley Young’s ninth-minute winner in Saturday's friendly in Oslo.
New England manager Roy Hodgson was full of praise for Carroll especially the new partnership with Manchester United's Young.
"Young and (Andy) Carroll have proved they can do that job," he said.
Wright echoed the comments of Hodgson by anointing Carroll as the England's first-choice striker.
Although acknowledging that England would have won more comfortably had Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney been present, Wright says Carroll is the man for the job at the Euros.
Wright feels that since Rooney would not be available for the opening two games through suspension, he hinted that it would be futile to play him in the friendly against Belgium.
Contrary to the belief that England would not be able to advance to the quarter-finals without Rooney, the former England striker backs Carroll to come good.
"I’ve heard some negative comments from people who reckon England could already be out of the competition when Rooney returns for our final group game against Ukraine on June 19. But I genuinely believe we could do better than many people expect and that Liverpool’s Andy Carroll could continue his good form from the end of the season," Wright wrote in his column in The Sun (http://bit.ly/KlUWzq).
He was confident that by the time Rooney returns to play the co-hosts, England would already have qualified for the quarter-finals.
Wright is certain Carroll is certain to spearhead England's attack against France in Donetsk on June 11.
Although Carroll just earned his fourth cap, Wright insists England's attack should revolve around the Liverpool forward for the Euros.
"Hodgson must play to the Kop striker’s strengths. Equally, he must select the right players who can give Carroll some decent deliveries," he said of a player who has been transformed from a laughing stock at Anfield to carry the weight of a nation in a few months.
Liverpool icon Kenny Dalglish lost his job at Merseyside because the likes of Carroll did not deliver the goods until very late in the season. Or is it a case of former Liverpool manager Hodgson getting the best out of Carroll.
Hodgson who picked the 23-year-old striker after sacked Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish assured that Carroll had changed his ways for the better.
"I spoke to Kenny at some length about him because I don't know him particularly well as a person and one can easily be tricked by perceptions of players and what you hear or read about them," Hodgson said.
"Kenny was absolutely convinced about the player's ability and his personality and his seriousness as a professional and when I heard that, I had no further reservations."
Nonetheless, Wright has become an admirer of Carroll's immense potential overnight comparing him to World Cup winner Luca Toni.
He said: "I think Carroll can be just as effective as him. But the key is to send over decent crosses towards Carroll from the wide areas. It will also be vital for players such as Ashley Young and Steven Gerrard to get the ball to Carroll’s feet. It also appears that, despite some stick he has received, the guy looks to be hungry and determined."
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer also wants England to play to Carroll's aerial power.
Shearer, who briefly managed Carroll on Tyneside, said: “The ability is there. I saw that at Newcastle.”
Carroll has risen to the occasion on the big stage, scoring twice at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals and final — with Liverpool taking advantage of his ability in the air.
“If Andy is in your team, he’s there for one reason. That is to get balls into the box,” he added.
Carroll for his part is determined to prove that he can carry the mantle for England and £35 million striker insists he has never been bothered by his price tag.
He told The Sun (http://bit.ly/KgbLM4): “Now I’ve got a chance to show what I’m about.
“The fee didn’t bother me, I always believed in myself. But things weren’t going for me and I didn’t play as many games as I hoped for Liverpool.
“But finally I did get a run in the side towards the end of the season. I did well,got my confidence up and now I’m here.
“I feel fitter now than I did at the beginning of the season or even halfway through the season. I just needed that run of games.
“Now, I’m feeling good and fresh. At the end of the season I felt like I was moving a lot better and getting involved in games more than I did at the beginning - and it feels great.”
If he scores goals against France and Sweden, he would certainly give Hodgson a major selection headache when Rooney is available again for Ukraine on June 19.