West Ham have opted against re-signing free agent Carlton Cole as the striker was unable to prove his fitness.
• Thorne: Don't panic!
Cole, 29, was released by the Hammers at the beginning of the summer after failing to agree a contract extension at Upton Park.
After struggling to find a new club following talks with the likes of Hull, Crystal Palace and Karabukspor, the former Chelsea man had been training with the East London side in a bid to earn a new deal.
And it had seemed likely that Cole would be returning to West Ham, with the club saying in a statement: “The club are pleased to announce that popular striker Carlton Cole is also undergoing a medical today.”
However, first-team coach Ian Hendon has confirmed the reasoning behind West Ham’s decision not to bring the striker back to Upton Park.
“Carlton's had a summer off. He's not been doing the sort of training that he needs to be doing to be ready to go,” Hendon told the Daily Mail. “The medical staff do all their assessments. We've got all these physical stats from last year and he's let it go a little bit. It's up to Carlton now to prove his fitness.
“He was offered a new deal early last season and he never signed it, he's only got himself or his agent to blame for that. But he's a good lad -- a good person to have around. He's not a sulker and he doesn't get the hump.”
The decision leaves the club short on strikers -- leading owner David Sullivan's son Jack to reveal that they are now looking at other free agents.
"Cole is not fit enough to offer a contract to. But he's thinking over getting fit with us and improving his fitness," Sullivan tweeted before deleting.
Meanwhile, West Ham remain hopeful that record-signing Andy Carroll will be fit for their next fixture against Southampton on September 15.
“We're hopeful that he may play a part in the Southampton game. He's training hard and we're hopeful,” Hendon said. “It's not a definite yet. We want him back as soon as possible but we don't want to risk anymore setbacks. He's in good hands with the medical staff.”