Andy Carroll close to West Ham return - Sam Allardyce

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce says the club's record £15m signing Andy Carroll is near to a first-team return.

Striker Carroll, 25, made his loan to the Hammers from Liverpool permanent in the summer but has not played since because of a foot injury.

"Andy is training today [Tuesday] and hopefully we'll see him on the bench in the next week or so," said Allardyce.

Carroll's return will be a boost for Allardyce, whose side are second from bottom of the Premier League.

West Ham 'right to back Allardyce'

The England international scored seven goals in 24 games for the Upton Park club while on loan last season.

He is unlikely to figure in West Ham's trip to Manchester City for the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final on Wednesday, but could be in the squad for the club's key league game at fellow strugglers Cardiff on Saturday.

Allardyce's injury problems have seen him sign central defender Roger Johnson on loan from Wolves until the end of the season and the 30-year-old is in the squad to face City.

Johnson is likely to start that match, with fellow defenders Winston Reid, James Collins and James Tomkins still on the club's injury list.

West Ham go into the game on the back of an inexperienced side being thrashed 5-0 by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and the club's co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan issuing an open letter in support of Allardyce.

"I'm obviously pleased by the united front we are trying to keep under these difficult times at the moment," said the Hammers boss.

"When it comes public from the co-chairmen it is nice to see and hear. From our point of view we are all understanding the difficult position we are in at the moment.

"We all have to work through it together in the hope that we turn it around in to a positive reaction in terms of our results.

"The day-to-day running of the football club is all I'm focused on.

"I keep in touch with the owners on a regular basis, it is a daily basis at the moment. I would be more worried if that communication went quiet."