Sam Allardyce has insisted that he needs to be patient with Andy Carroll as the striker continues his recovery from a long-term foot injury.
The West Ham United man, who signed on a permanent £15m deal in the summer from Liverpool after a successful season-long loan, is yet to feature for the club this term due the problem.
Carroll is now back in training with the first team, although Allardyce admits that he will have to be cautious with the 24-year-old, who is expected to return to the field in January.
"It's been a long wait to get him to where he is now and I need to be as patient again because he hasn't done any pre-season and hasn't kicked a ball since May," Allardyce told the media.
"It's my job and responsibility to say 'you're not ready, hard luck. We'll tell you when you're ready, you won't tell us, and we'll do that for your own benefit and protection'.
"We want him back, but we want him playing for longevity and to complete the season without picking up any more injuries."
West Ham travel to Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.