West Ham United captain Kevin Nolan is not worried by his side’s lack of goals, despite drawing a blank for a third consecutive match against Southampton, and has backed Modibo Maiga to find his goalscoring touch.
With Andy Carroll injured, Maiga has been drafted in to lead the Hammers' attack but has enjoyed little success so far, and was once again shut out by Saints shot-stopper Artur Boruc.
But Nolan has defended the much-maligned Mali international, who has not scored a league goal since December 2012, and believes he has a virtually impossible task trying to fill Carroll's boots.
"None of us have criticised [Maiga], that’s the main thing," Nolan told reporters after the 0-0 draw with Southampton. "When you miss someone like Andy, you’re going to talk about Andy, instead of the centre-forward who’s actually playing.
"If he doesn’t come in and score then it’s all, ‘he’s no Andy Carroll’. There aren’t many people like Andy Carroll, maybe Rickie Lambert. Modibo’s got other strengths, he’s very good in the air, technically gifted and very calm in front of goal.
"We’ve just got to start getting him those chances. He’s been fantastic for us. He’s been thrown in at the deep end. This boy has come over from Sochaux, he was upset he wasn’t playing a lot, he’s knuckled down and he’s getting his chance. Now it’s up to him to start putting them in the back of the net."
Carroll could be out of action for the rest of 2013, after picking up another injury in his ankle during training last week, but Nolan is hoping that once West Ham’s record signing regains his fitness, he can start to rebuild his prolific partnership with the 24-year-old.
"I have played with Andy for a year and a half and we get goals," he said. "That’s because we are a force together and no one can stop us.
"When we go on the field, I always feel either one of us is going to get a goal. We have got a great partnership but I do quite well without him."