In the midst of an attacking revolution being implemented at West Ham by Sam Allardyce under firm instructions from the board, talisman Andy Carroll could find it a struggle to get back into the starting lineup.
The striker, who suffered ankle ligament damage during a pre-season tour of New Zealand in July, had to have surgery and was not expected to return to the first-team until December.
However, owner David Gold tweeted that the 25-year-old resumed training last week, although no date of his return was confirmed.
Despite this, the Mirror has stated he is targeting a return to action for the Hammers next month, way ahead of schedule, but he now has more than injuries to overcome in order to get a game.
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Allardyce was forced to delve into the transfer market in the summer in a bid to bolster his striking options and he has brought in four new faces that can all do a job in attack.
Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho, Mauro Zarate and Morgan Amalfitano are the players that have formed an exciting frontline for the Irons in the opening five Premier League matches.
Valencia and Sakho in particular have mightily impressed and seem to be creating a good understanding with one another. The former demonstrated his power with a goal against Hull that literally shot from his boot like a bullet from a gun, rifling home from 25 yards with little backlift.
The latter now has three goals in three starts and the pair of them combined are positive, energetic and wreak havoc on opposition defences with their pace and movement.
This fruitful partnership will be the main obstacle between Carroll and a return straight into the starting XI. Zarate and Amalfitano are not out-and-out strikers so perhaps don’t provide direct competition with the Geordie, however they have also impressed up top when given the chance.
Another issue for Carroll and Allardyce is that he does not exactly fit into the new style of play that the Hammers have deployed to great effect this term.
They have passed it neatly and quickly but most importantly on the ground, and this will not suit the forward.
Carroll's presence in the team last season was a major part of West Ham's willingness to look long; he is a master at flick-ons and knock-downs, but it doesn’t look pretty and doesn’t promote the style of football the board and fans want to see.
Allardyce has a major decision to make when Carroll returns to first-team action and, if Valencia and Sakho’s fine form continues, he could be offloaded in January.
It is reported by the Mirror that Carroll’s former club Newcastle are keen on taking the striker back. Preliminary talks broke down in the summer because the hitman suffered another injury, but once he returns to fitness they could reopen discussions.
The way things are going for the Irons and the entertaining football that has been on display it would be silly for Allardyce to revert back to playing with Carroll.
There is no doubt he would be a good plan B to have in reserve but it is unlikely the England international would be happy to sit on the sidelines after spending so much time there due to injuries.
He could well favour a January move back to his home club in order to get first-team football and try to reclaim his place in the national set-up.
Is it time for the Hammers to cut their losses on Carroll?