By Danny Carlton
West Ham will fly Andy Carroll to USA in a bid to cure his long-standing heel injury but remain confident that their record purchase will play a significant role this season, Goal understands.
The club has confirmed that the £15 million signing from Liverpool has suffered an injury to his plantar fascia (heel area) and have so far received two specialists' reports confirming the problem.
Sources close to the club have told Goal that suggestions the England striker may miss the entire season "could not be more wrong" and will now fly the 24-year-old to the States to see a top specialist for a consultation and treatment.
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This latest setback, however, prevented Carroll from taking a full part in pre-season and he is yet to make an appearance this campaign for a West Ham side that missed his combative presence and goalscoring threat during Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Southampton. Indeed, Sam Allardyce’s men have now gone 370 minutes without scoring.
Carroll's injury, more commonly associated with American football and basketball stars, has affected the likes of Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and NBA stars Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls in the past.
Los Angeles baseball star Albert Pujols is quoted as saying: "I've been dealing with this for nine years - rest is the treatment."
The problem is to get blood to the affected area but at 23 Carroll - 10 years younger than Pujols - is likely to be able to play with the condition even though it may never be permanently healed.
Memories of the ankle injury which ended Dean Ashton’s equally promising West Ham and England career four years ago are still fresh in the minds of those at the Upton Park helm.
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"Everybody here of course remembers the Dean Ashton situation and how an ankle injury finally ended his career at 26," said the source.
"In Andy's case there are no broken bones - it's more a case of bruising in a sensitive area. With rest we are told it can be sorted out.
"We have now found an American specialist who has vast experience of treating the problem. We are making arrangements for Andy to visit him and it's a big relief to the lad. He was down and frustrated but now he can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
"Andy is positive at the moment - of course he was deeply depressed when he broke down again in training but he's getting on with it and taking the best possible advice and treatment."