West Ham fans should not stop dreaming that Andy Carroll can stay fit long term

West Ham's Andy Carroll shakes hands with manager Slaven Bilic as he is substituted

The West Ham United forward is expected to return this month.

West Ham United fans will have grown tired of thinking an Andy Carroll renaissance was right around the corner, but that does not mean they should stop dreaming of it.

Time and again the Hammers striker has returned to the starting line-up after another spell on the side-lines, and time and again he has been struck down soon after.

West Hams' Sofiane Feghouli and Andy Carroll celebrate after a goal

Carroll showed as recently as last season what a weapon he can be in front of goal – and yet he also showed why fans – and clubs – have rarely been able to put their faith in him for an entire season.

Despite that, Carroll is the best striker West Ham have. On his day, he is one of the Premier League’s most effective forwards, a player unlike most in the top flight and one who would transform the Hammers’ season if could remain fully fit.

That is a big ask, but such is the player’s talent and importance to the club that their fans should never give up on him.

West Ham's Andy Carroll

Some may argue that Carroll gets better with each match he misses, his reputation improved by his absence rather than any contribution on the pitch. But his nine goals last season spoke of a player desperate to return to his best, and with talk of an imminent return he needs the club’s supporters on his side.

It may feel like a dream to some, to have Carroll back and playing regularly, but it is a dream they have to hold on to.

Carroll is by far West Ham’s most effective striker, and after all the bad luck he has endured, surely he is due some good.

West Ham's Andy Carroll in action with Swansea City's Federico Fernandez

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch