Slaven Bilic is hopeful of having Andy Carroll fit in as little as three weeks – with the West Ham boss revealing the trip to Liverpool is a realistic target.
The Hammers open their Premier League campaign with a tricky trip to Arsenal on Sunday, on the back of their humbling Europa League qualifying exit at the hands of Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.
With both Carroll and fellow forward Enner Valencia sidelined with knee injuries, Diafra Sakho and Mauro Zarate are Bilic’s only experienced options for the game at the Emirates Stadium.
Club-record signing Carroll has seen his West Ham career besieged with injuries and has been out since February with his latest problem.
He was expected to be missing until October but he returned to training with the Under-21 squad last week, and now Bilic believes the England international could play some part against one of his former clubs – at Anfield on August 29 or at home to Newcastle United on September 14..
“Andy Carroll is doing really well,” he said.
“He will be joining the squad in terms of training with the team very soon. It is easy to predict (when he will be fit), but it is also hard. I ask the simple questions to our medical department, but it is hard for them.
“He has been working for a few weeks, but last week he was doing individual stuff without any problems so now the injury is gone. We just have to bring him in slowly, but as soon as possible to gain fitness.
“It should be, the target the medical department told me, Liverpool or Newcastle which is the fourth or fifth game of the season.”