PHOTOS: Andy Carroll makes West Ham return in friendly match

West Ham United forward Andy Carroll made his long-awaited return to action against Southend United today.

West Ham United forward Andy Carroll has made his long awaited return to action in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Southend United.

The Hammers forward has been out for the whole season so far due to injury, but he is nearing a return now and played his first match this afternoon.

It has been a frustrating time for Carroll, who has dropped down the pecking order at the Boleyn Ground during his time on the sidelines.

The England international's career at the London club has been plagued with injury and Sam Allardyce made plans to compensate for Carroll's fitness struggles. 

West Ham brought in Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho during the summer to add to their forward ranks and both have impressed during their initial time at the club.

The pair have already accumulated nine Premier League goals between them and their effective partnership has been a major reason for West Ham's success so far.

Carroll returns to a team sitting in fifth place in the Premier League and he will face a fight to win his spot back. 

There is talk about what the future holds for the striker, who could have become surplus to requirements during his time out, but for now he will simply be focused on returning to full-fitness and an appearance back on the pitch was a step in the right direction today. 

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