West Ham believe that Andy Carroll will be ready to return to first team action against Newcastle United on on January 18.
Carroll’s continuing absence has sparked huge speculation that he may not kick a ball in anger this season having missed the entire season so far.
And continuing reports that he will be ready by various missed dates has caused more and more alarm among the fans.
But the player is now training regularly with the first team and highly placed sources at the clubs have informed Claretandhugh that January 18 is now the key date in his comeback programme.
There had been hopes that he might be ready for the match against Cardiff City at the weekend but that has now been put back a week.
Our source revealed exclsuively this has not been as a result of any setback declaring that it was now hoped he would make a return in front of his own fans on January 18.
He said: “It would be a very appropriate fixture given his Newcastle background wouldn’t it.
“He may not be ready for 90 minutes but we would expect him to be on the bench for the game and play some part.”