Football: West Ham can take Champions League to Olympic Stadium

LONDON (Reuters) - West Ham United's move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016 can usher in an era of Champions League football at the Premier League club, according to striker Andy Carroll.

The East Londoners, who have not featured in a European competition for eight years, are set to move less than 5km from their Upton Park ground to the larger capacity 54,000-seat stadium, which hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, in two years time.

England international Carroll, who joined the club in a 15 million-pound (S$30.7 million) move from Liverpool in 2013, believes a talented squad can grow in stature to match the club's off-the-field ambitions.

"When I first signed for the club the manager said this team could get into the top six and into Europe, and I can see the plan coming together now - it is not out of the question," Carroll, who played in the Europa League with Liverpool, told the London Evening Standard on Tuesday.

"With the players we have I can't see any reason why we can't do that. We could definitely play in the Champions League in the new stadium. The quality is there, and with the new stadium coming we have everything else going for us."

West Ham are seventh in the Premier League with 10 points and new strike duo Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho have hit the ground running with a number of impressive displays.

It is a marked improvement on the team's dour performances last season when they flirted with the relegation battle for much of the campaign.

Carroll is still waiting for a reversal in his own fortunes, currently watching from the sidelines as he recovers from surgery on his ankle.

The towering striker has been dogged by injuries since making permanent a loan deal from Liverpool in June last year and has made only 12 league appearances for the club since the beginning of last season.

He insists he has not let the club down after his big-money move and is ready to fight Valencia and Sakho for a place in the side once he returns from injury, which he has pencilled in for next month.

"I don't mind a battle, and every team needs competition for places," the 25-year-old explained. "That is one of the things we have here - everyone is fighting for their place. "I know I've had problems with injuries and I'm not hiding away from that. Hopefully this is the last one and I can get it out of the way.

"The club have put a lot of faith in me, paying so much money, but I don't feel like I've let them down. It's an injury that I couldn't help."