One pre-season game is all Andy Carroll has featured in this season, having undergone an operation to his ankle that ruled him out of action for West Ham.
Hammers fans will be used to the sight of the 29-year-old on the medical table, with the striker plagued by injuries since his arrival in London back in 2013, which has led to caution over when the towering forward returns.
But with the former England international back up and running at their Rush Green facilities, the Carabao Cup derby with Tottenham Hotspur at the end of October has been tagged as his potential grand return.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini’s awareness of Carroll’s prior niggles has caused the Chilean coach to favour caution and he will want his man fully fit before he plays.
Missing big chunks of the season is nothing new for Andy Carroll, with the target man spending a lot of time in the treatment room over the course of his career.
Last season, Carroll’s reoccurring ankle injury kept him out of the line-up at the London Stadium for three-months before re-appearing in his only pre-season game under Pellegrini.
The injury now appears to have cleared and has allowed the aerial threat to return to full training, handing the Irons another option up front with strikers Javier Hernández, Lucas Perez and Michail Antonio all displaying sub-par performances in front of goal this season.
Carroll has had a mixed Premier League career, having shone at Newcastle following their promotion but slumped at Liverpool when the Reds paid big money for the big man.
West Ham’s initial loan should have acted as a kick-start for Carroll but the story has not panned out that way, with the 6 foot 4 forward joining the Irons on a permanent deal the year later on a six-year contract.
Four complete seasons through that deal, the Newcastle academy graduate has only once bettered his best goal tally for the club dubbed the ‘Academy of Football’, which he set in his loan year.
In contrast, the Hammers’ current striker, Marko Arnautović, bettered Carroll’s West Ham best in his debut season at the club. The Austrian international has also kicked off the current campaign in fine form with four goals in seven Premier League appearances.
With the Hammers’ Carabao Cup clash with Tottenham fast approaching, eyes will certainly be on what role Carroll can play in Pellegrini’s game plan.
The 29-year-old has netted just twice in 10 career appearances against Spurs but if he’s given game time by his new manager, there’s no doubting he’ll be desperate to make in instant impression, which Spurs must be wary of.