Carlton Cole set for 150th start for West Ham at Norwich City
Carlton Cole has welcomed the arrival of Andy Carroll at West Ham, despite losing his place to the striker.
Cole found himself dropped for the Hammers' 3-0 win over Fulham last time out following Carroll's loan move from Liverpool.
England star Carroll, who cost the Reds �35m from Newcastle, impressed on his debut and looked certain to keep Cole out of the side until he picked up a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for up to six weeks. That means a likely recall for Cole for Saturday's trip to Norwich City, which would be the 28-year-old's 150th start for West Ham.
'Every year, you have to have people challenging for places because it is healthy for the club,' he said. 'I'm a guy who believes in that and you could get complacent if you know you are going to play week in, week out.
'It's better to always be on your toes and I welcome a challenge like Andy Carroll because he is one of the best target men around in the Premier League and it's just going to reinvigorate me to be a better player.'
Cole also welcomed the return on loan of Yossi Benayoun, who he played alongside during the 2006-07 season, which saw West Ham produce a 'Great Escape' from relegation.
'Yossi is a brilliant character and a great player as well – we all know that,' Cole said. 'He has finally come home and he's back where I believe he belongs. I played for a season with him before he went off to Liverpool but he was really influential around the players and the team.
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'I was sad to see him leave so now he's back, I'm really happy.'
Benayoun will be expected to provide the ammunition for the likes of Carroll and Cole, who has yet to find the net this season. He revealed he was already being teased about that by captain Kevin Nolan, who has scored twice so far.
'I've been having banter with Nobby in the changing room already,' said Cole, who has finished West Ham's top scorer for the last four seasons.
'Last year, we were bouncing off each other saying: 'I've got more goals than you, so what are you going to do about it?' We spur each other on.'