West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has said he is determined to not to throw Andy Carroll back into his team before the striker is fully fit.
England international Carroll has not featured for the East London club this season because of a heel injury, and they have struggled in his absence.
A 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Monday highlighted the Hammers’ problems in front of goal -- but Allardyce said: "We will get him back as quick as we possibly can, but my position is to take a sensible view.
"We are in a difficult position at the minute, but I can't panic into putting Andy in too quickly. It is my responsibility to make sure he is there to stay when he comes back onto the field, and not just one or two games.
"In the position we're in at the moment, it is extremely tough to resist putting him in. I'd like to put him on the bench at Liverpool [where West Ham play on Saturday], but that would be rather stupid."
Carroll played for West Ham on loan last season, when the Hammers finished 10th in the Premier League after promotion, before making his move to Upton Park permanent over the summer.
Allardyce said he realised that Carroll, who is back in light training, would want to return to the line-up as soon as possible, but stressed: "Andy will want to play quicker than he should, and I'll have to calm him down until the specialist says it's time for him to get in and amongst it again. Hopefully he'll then have an impact when he returns.”