West Ham co-owner David Gold is hopeful that injury-plagued striker Andy Carroll will be fit enough for a place on the substitutes' bench for the club's next Premier League fixture at home to Newcastle on 14 September.
The 26-year-old has been beset by fitness problems since moving to Upton Park from Liverpool in a £15m ($22.7) deal following a successful loan spell in June 2013, making just 29 Premier League appearances over two seasons. After suffering with separate ankle, heel and achilles problems, he required knee surgery in February after sustaining medial ligament damage during the goalless draw with Southampton.
Rehabilitating from that procedure meant that Carroll missed West Ham's entire pre-season preparations, as well as their shortlived Europa League qualifying campaign and the first four top-flight matches under new manager Slaven Bilic that included respective victories over Arsenal and Liverpool.
He made his long-awaited return to first-team training on 25 August, however, with head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke confirming that he would continue to build up match fitness. A potential comeback against a team with whom he spent six years always appeared the target and that is looking increasingly likely now with Gold having visited the Hammers' Chadwell Heath training ground and witnessed his rapid progress first hand.
In response to a supporter asking via Twitter if Carroll would be in a position to play against Newcastle, Gold replied: "He is working hard and he is determined. I am hopeful he will be on the bench. dg"
In addition to the potential return of Carroll, West Ham could have a number of new faces on show for the visit of Steve McClaren's side. Bilic was very active indeed during the final days of the transfer window, supplementing his attacking options with the additions of fellow Croatian Nikica Jelavic and Nottingham Forest winger Michail Antonio as well as securing the season-long loan of Victor Moses from Chelsea. Alex Song has also returned to the fold from Barcelona.