Photos: Andy Carroll back in West Ham training, shares a laugh with James Collins

The West Ham striker made his much-awaited return to training on Thursday afternoon.

Andy Carroll made his much-anticipated return to West Ham United first-team training on Thursday afternoon. The striker had said he was back training already but, here, he was pictured with the rest of his team-mates for the first time.

Tension is currently high between fans and owners at West Ham and much of the discontent has come from the failure to sign a new forward.

Carroll's return to training, then, is a timely one. Of course, it may just end up harming the Hammers in that faith will once again be placed on the 26-year-old's shoulders and a new striker not recruited as a result. What would then happen if Carroll got injured once again?

The assumption, though, is that West Ham will still pursue another forward and, if Carroll can stay fit, his presence will be a huge boost for the first team nevertheless - considering how short they are on options as things stand.

Meanwhile, during practice, the target man spent plenty of time alongside buddy James Collins, joking and laughing with the centre-back. Collins has been linked with a move away from the Irons by the Daily Mirror recently, with former winger Matthew Etherington suggesting he is on the way out on Twitter.

If Carroll were to have his way, though, it looks like he'd prefer a Collins stay!

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