Andy Carroll set for West Ham return against old club Newcastle
Andy Carroll is in contention to make his return to the West Ham side in time to face boyhood club Newcastle on Monday night.
The 26-year-old has been sidelined since February when he required surgery on a serious knee issue.
But now he is fit and has been training with the first team for a fortnight, manager Slaven Bilic is ready to unleash him against his former side as the Hammers go in search of a first home Premier League win of the campaign.
"We've changed a bit with his rehabilitation this time," Bilic revealed.
"A few times before, straight after the injury when he was okay he trained for a few days with the team and then played straight away. Then, because of his stature, size and everything, especially with the brave way he plays, another injury would come.
"This time we've made six weeks of let's call it pre-season and he looks very good in training. Is he in contention? Probably.
"The one thing that I don't like now, and it's (the same) for every manager, is that after the international breaks we still have some players who are going to return today or tomorrow after long trips. You still don't have your squad, but at least we are playing on Monday.
"That's good, because had it been tomorrow it's a problem, but if you're asking about the squad for Monday we still have to count all the players who will train together, and that will be tomorrow."
Bilic has masterminded victories away at Arsenal and Liverpool so far this season but has lost both league games at Upton Park - with Leicester and Bournemouth leaving east London with all three points.
Newcastle have taken just two points from their opening four matches and their head coach Steve McClaren has bad memories of coming up against Bilic.
The 54-year-old's stint as England manager was brought to an end when his side slipped to defeat at home to Bilic's Croatia to miss out on a place at Euro 2008.
But Bilic was full of praise for the former Middlesbrough and FC Twente boss, insisting Monday's game is about more than the two managers coming up against one another once again.
"That game wasn't Steve McClaren v Slaven Bilic, it was England v Croatia and on Monday it's West Ham v Newcastle," he said.
"I had sympathy for Steve - that wasn't just a normal game, we played really well. England came back to 2-2 and then we scored again. Of course I felt sympathy because I know how it works, but then Steve recovered really well to go to Holland.
"He was brave enough and had enough quality to prove himself in different leagues and now he's back in the Premier League and I'm glad for him."
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