Andy Carroll has set his sights on running out at the Boleyn Ground on the opening day of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season.

The West Ham United and England forward, who made his move from Liverpool permanent this summer for a club-record fee, has been sidelined since the final day of last season with a heel injury.

However, the new No9 has told West Ham TV that his rehabilitation has been going well and he is still hopeful of featuring against Cardiff City on Saturday 17 August.

"I've been working hard. I've been away to Germany with the lads and keeping myself as fit as I can with the work I can do with my heel still being sore," said Carroll. "It's been tough but I've been working hard to be back for the beginning of the season.

"I'm doing a lot of cardiovascular work to keep my fitness up without stressing my heel, which means going on the rowing machine and on the bike and doing all the things I don't like, really! I've been working hard, hopefully I'll be back for the start of the season.

"I couldn't think of anything worse than being injured during pre-season. It's painful to watch everyone else going out and having a laugh and me just doing one-on-one physio work in the gym. It's a nightmare but I've just got to get myself fit and ready.

"I don't like it in the gym, so it makes me push myself that bit harder. I'm dying to get back and kicking a ball again. I can't wait because the last time I kicked a ball was in the final game of last season."

While the home pre-season meeting with UEFA Champions League qualifiers Pacos de Ferreira may come too soon for the Gateshead-born forward, Carroll has urged his team-mates to set a marker down by getting the better of their Portuguese visitors - for both themselves and the supporters.

"I think the lads have done great in their pre-season games and obviously they'll want to do well in the first game back here at the Boleyn Ground. The fans will be dying to get the season started as well, so it'll be good."

A week later, West Ham tackle newly-promoted Cardiff in east London. Like the Hammers did a year ago, Carroll believes the Bluebirds will want to make a strong start to life in the Barclays Premier League.

Whether or not the No9 is available, Sam Allardyce's side will start the game as favourites, but Carroll says West Ham should take nothing for granted against the reigning Championship winners.

"It's always important to get a win in the first game of the season. Obviously they have just come up so it'll be tough. They have just been promoted and will want to show what they are all about. We need to understand that and get a win under our belts.

"I think everyone is buzzing about and has come back in great form and great spirits. Everyone is looking forward to the start of the season. They have been working hard over the summer and cannot wait for the beginning."

*To watch the full West Ham TV interview with Andy Carroll, including his favourite memories of his first season playing at the Boleyn Ground, log in or subscribe now.

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