Bilic hopeful over Carroll
Published 07/08/2015 | 04:37
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 against Newcastle two weeks later.
"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."
With Carroll closing in on a return, Bilic is looking to bolster his attacking options further with the loan signing of Atletico Madrid forward Raul Jimenez.
The Mexico international is waiting for a work permit but Bilic does not intend to return to the transfer market for any more strikers - effectively ruling out moves for players such as Javier Hernandez or Charlie Austin, who have both been heavily linked with moves to Upton Park.
"We are close but it is not done," he said of a move for Jimenez.
"Hopefully it is going to be done today or tomorrow but he will not make the squad for Sunday, no way. But it would be good for us to get the player as soon as possible. That would be it done. Then I would be happy."
Alex Song could also yet complete a move from Barcelona following his own loan spell last season but Bilic said the rest of the transfer window would likely see players departing the club.
Having replaced Sam Allardyce as manager ahead of the final season at Upton Park before their move to the Olympic Stadium, Bilic was also keen to reel in any unrealistic expectations from his first year at the helm.
"I would like us to play good football, to win games," he said when asked what would constitute a successful campaign.
"It's easy to say now before the first game. Our aim is to be mid-table, to be as high as possible, we will give everything we can - let's say if we finish top 10 that is major success."
The Croatian confirmed he will recall all of the first-team regulars who he rested for the defeat in Romania. In addition to Valencia and Carroll, loanee Carl Jenkinson is unavailable against his parent club.