AC hits the training ground running

Andy Carroll has returned to the training pitch at Chadwell Heath - a sight welcomed by everyone connected with West Ham United,

The centre forward rejoined the squad on Tuesday following two months of hard work at specialist clinics in Belgium and the Netherlands, receiving a warm welcome from his team-mates.

Carroll has been receiving treatment for a double rupture of the plantar fascia in his right foot - the tendons that run through the arch of the foot, connecting the heel to the toes.

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Now, after three months of hard work in the Low Countries, the 24-year-old is back at Chadwell Heath and edging ever closer to a return to action.

On Wednesday, the No9 joined physiotherapist Leo Echteld in The Cave - the Chadwell Heath gym - where he enjoyed a ride on a stationary bike before going through a series of elaborate exercises to strengthen and condition his whole body. After that, it was time to swap the gym for the training pitch, where Carroll spent time jogging and doing some ball work.

Echteld, who has worked as the physiotherapist for the Dutch national team, has been treating Carroll at his Fysiomed Sports Medical Centre in Amsterdam for the past few weeks and travelled to Chadwell Heath to oversee the next stage of the striker's recovery.

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll doing some ball work with physio Leo Echteld

"I am so happy to be back here at the training ground around all the lads," said Carroll. "You don't realise how much you miss all the banter and other stuff until you are away from it, so it's great to be here again!

"I flew back a few times during my treatment to watch matches and catch up with my family, team-mates and friends, but now I'm back for good.

"It has been a long, hard process but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It felt great to be out on the pitch jogging and kicking a ball in the open air, even if it was a bit cold!

"It's been really hard watching the games while I've been out. We haven't picked up the results we have deserved, so I can't wait to get out there again and start helping the team to win some games."