Andy Carroll is hoping to get the all-clear to begin a rehabilitation programme - and avoid surgery on his heel injury.

West Ham striker Carroll has seen several specialists and is hoping to get the green light from a Belgian expert to begin the long road back.

Boss Sam Allardyce has described it as an “unusual injury” but is hoping the Hammers can manage the problem rather than having to put the England target-man under the knife which could wreck his season.

Carroll clearly believes he can get back onto the pitch with specialist help and is putting his faith in a trip to Belgium at the end of last week to speed up his return.

Meanwhile Kevin Nolan has admitted West Ham are missing his crocked pal Carroll.

Allardyce’s side has now gone three Premier League games without a goal following the stalemate at Southampton.

Irons captain Nolan said: “Of course you’re going to miss him no matter what even if you’re putting another international player in there which Maiga Modibo is.

“I don’t think anyone has really criticised him I think it’s just the fact when you miss someone like Andy you’re going to talk about Andy instead of the centre-forward who’s actually playing.

“There’s not many people like Andy Carroll no-one’s like Andy Carroll maybe Rickie Lambert maybe but I think they’re a bit different here and there.”

Nolan's own on-field partnership with his friend pre-dates Carroll's arrival at Upton Park as they were also team-mates at Newcastle.

“I have played with Andy Carroll for a year and a half and we get goals” he added. “It is a well-known fact in the Premier League - you only have to look at our stats together - that’s because we are a force together and no-one can stop us.