West Ham manager Sam Allardyce says the club's record signing Andy Carroll could return in "two to three weeks".
Carroll has started only 12 Premier League matches during an injury-hit 16-month spell at Upton Park.
"It's been a long, hard road again for Andy and one he's been too familiar with recently, sadly," Allardyce said.
"Hopefully he'll have a major impact when he comes back again."
|Andy Carroll's injury record at West Ham|
|September 2012 - Picks up hamstring injury in his first game on loan - out for a month|
|November 2012 -Twists knee against Manchester United - sidelined for two months|
|May 2013 - Damages heel in the last game of the season - out for seven months|
|July 2014 - Tears ankle ligaments in pre-season - expected to be out for four months|
The striker has returned to training and Allardyce expects the England forward to feature in Under-18 and Under-21 games before a possible return to first-team action in mid-November.
"It'll be another two to three weeks, if he has no niggles or problems, before we talk about playing him in the team at any level," he said.
"We'll try to get him through three or four behind-closed-doors games and if that goes all right then we would hope to have him back."
Allardyce says that the former Newcastle and Liverpool forward returned too soon from the foot injury that kept him sidelined for the first five months of last season.
"Last time we got him back he did his ankle but carried on playing, so this time round we don't want to rush him," he said.
Summer signings Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have impressed up front in Carroll's absence, and, with West Ham lying fourth in the Premier League table, Allardyce says the club can afford to take extra care over his return.
"We're hopefully going to get him back as quick as we can but we're not going to rush him back because, touch wood, there's no desperate need at the moment." he said.