West Ham United striker Andy Carroll has taken a huge step towards making a return from injury after six months out after knee surgery, following confirmation the England international has resumed first team training. Carroll has not played since February after going under the knife having suffered medical ligament damage against Southampton.
Carroll has made just 17 Premier League appearances in just over two seasons with the Hammers since becoming the club's record signing after joining on a permanent basis from Liverpool in 2013. The 26-year-old's career has been dogged by injury and this latest blow saw him miss the final three months of last term and has already seen him absent for the start of Slaven Bilic's reign at the helm.
Co-owner David Gold has made no secret of West Ham's desire to sign at least two strikers with Carroll and Valencia out injured. However, that could be set to change with less than a week of the summer transfer window left after head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke announced in his weekly injury bulletin that Carroll was nearing a return.
"I want to start this week with some really positive news - Andy Carroll trained with the first-team squad on Tuesday and he will continue to do so as he continues to build up his match fitness ahead of a competitive return to action," he told the official West Ham website. The east Londoners travel to Liverpool this weekend but after the international break host Carroll's former club Newcastle United - the likely opposition for his return on 14 September.
The news regarding Carroll comes amid controversy regarding the fitness of fellow-striker Valencia, who has claimed West Ham have neglected him during his injury absence. The Ecuador international suffered a leg injury in the Europa League qualifier against Astra Giurgiu in July.
But Valencia has now backed down from the initial comments and has praised the club for their treatment of his injury. "It has been a frustrating time, but I would like to make clear that I have the utmost respect and confidence in the Club's medical team and the specialists I was referred to and I would like to apologise to them and the Club for any issues arising from the recent press coverage," the 25-year-old told the club's official website.