London - West Ham United's lack of goals and their slide towards the Premier League's relegation zone has not been helped by an injury to record signing Andy Carroll but there may be an end in sight to his woes.
The former Newcastle United and Liverpool frontman has not played for West Ham since his £15 million permanent move to Upton Park in June and the fourth-from-bottom London side have suffered, scoring only nine goals.
Carroll, who impressed on loan at West Ham, has struggled to recover from a foot injury but manager Sam Allardyce said he would return to training next week.
"We hope Andy will be back with us to start some training next week. It's tentative in our approach to it. We can't get over-anxious and push him too hard," Allardyce told reporters on Friday, ahead of a home clash with Fulham.
With Saturday's home match against third-from-bottom Fulham followed by another London derby at second bottom Crystal Palace in midweek Allardyce would have loved to have the striker available, but says he must look at the longer term.
"We can't do anything other than what the specialists are saying, no matter how desperate our situation may become," Allardyce said of the England striker.
"When Andy's fit, we've got to get him fit to stay fit, not fit to a point where he may pick up another injury."