Manager on Monday

Sam Allardyce is hopeful his attacking options will be bolstered in the coming weeks with the return to fitness of Carlton Cole.

The striker, who re-signed with the Club last week, is still some way short of full fitness but was able to sit on the bench for Saturday's 3-1 defeat at home to Manchester City.

Cole has been training hard in his bid to regain match fitness and Allardyce revealed the striker will be playing a part for the Development Squad later today when they travel to AFC Telford's ground to play Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He said: "Carlton's had one game, we started pre-season training on July 1 and spent seven-and-a-half weeks building up to Cardiff, Carlton's been training with us for three weeks and played one game behind closed doors.

"In pre-season terms he's still four weeks off but we have to bring that forward as quickly as we possibly can. He'll be playing in the Under-21s on Monday to get another game.

"He's fit now but he's not match fit and he'll certainly come into the equation for when we play Burnley because we play Swansea on Sunday and then Burnley on Tuesday."

Big Sam has employed a 4-6-0 formation to good effect in the last two matches with his tactics yielding a 3-0 at White Hart Lane before putting Manchester City under pressure for long periods of Saturday's game.

Playing without a front man has worked well in the past two fixtures but the manager admits that a change of tactic is needed for the forthcoming matches amidst praise for his players performance against Manuel Pellegrini's team.

"I don't want to continue playing without a front man," Allardyce said. "Certainly not in games when it's more important to play with a front man.

"It suited us in the last two games but Man City spent £100 million this summer, Tottenham spent the same, we spent around £20 million and I've got five free transfers on the pitch and that's the difference at the end of the day.

"We tried our best, the players tried their best but today their best wasn't good enough against that team and that quality."

Cole is not the only forward who Big Sam hopes will be available in the near future with Mladen Petric likely to get an opportunity, while Andy Carroll is recuperating and getting stronger with every passing week.

The summer signing has been a big miss for the Hammers this season and whilst there has been no timescale put on his return, Allardyce is confident he will have a big part to play when he does.

"He's still in Belgium and improving week by week," said the manager.

"We hope to speak to the specialist on Monday and hopefully he'll be able to give us a date of when he'll be back with us. It's very important that we get him back as quick as we can.

"Andy is the main man we bought in the summer to be our leader on the front line, once he gets fit and up and running again he will not only score goals but also create opportunities for lots of other players to score goals."