(Reuters) – West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini hopes Andy Carroll can overcome his injury woes as the Newcastle United striker faces a race against time to prove his fitness for a return to the London Stadium on Saturday.
Carroll re-signed for his hometown club Newcastle in August after seven injury-plagued seasons at West Ham, where he scored 33 goals in 126 Premier League appearances.
The 30-year-old rejoined first-team training on Thursday as he continues to recover from a groin strain that has kept him on the sidelines since Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat by Chelsea on Oct. 19.
Pellegrini wants to see Carroll in full flight, even if it means a difficult Saturday afternoon for the West Ham defenders.
“I hope he will be fit as he, like (West Ham defender) Winston Reid, is a player who has had many injuries, long injuries and they deserve to have a normal career,” Pellegrini told a news conference on Thursday.
“If he is on the bench, it will be one more difficult player that Newcastle will have. If not, they will have another one.
“I think the fans will give him a good welcome. For different reasons, Andy couldn’t stay here. When you defend the shirt, the fans applaud you so often. He will deserve the same respect.”
New Zealand defender Reid, who has missed almost a year-and-a-half after suffering a serious knee injury with West Ham, played over an hour with the club’s under-23 team on Wednesday.
Pellegrini was delighted to see Reid pull on a West Ham jersey again and now expects his backroom staff to carefully manage the player’s return to first-team action.
“He played 65 minutes without any problems,” the Chilean coach said.
“We’ll see how he reacts. Next, he’ll aim to play another match for the whole game, and as soon as he can, he’ll start working with the first-team squad.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Jack Wilshere has suffered another injury setback and will not be available for selection against Newcastle.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)