West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has promised England striker Andy Carroll will be given all the expert medical help he needs to recover from his latest “devastating” injury setback.
The 24-year-old had been pencilled in to feature in the Irons squad for the first time this season, ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League game at Southampton, following his £15million summer move from Liverpool.
Carroll had returned to training following an Achilles problem which ruled him out of the end-of-season international friendlies, after an impressive loan spell at Upton Park had seen him restored to Roy Hodgson's World Cup plans.
However, West Ham confirmed on Friday morning the former Newcastle frontman had further injured his foot during a training session earlier this week. He has aggravated the plantar fascia tissue which supports the arch and is now set for another extended spell on the sidelines.
Press Association Sport understands Carroll has travelled to Europe - boarding a plane for Belgium earlier on Friday morning - to begin a rehabilitation programme which the club hopes will not require an operation, but no time frame has been set for a possible return to full match fitness.
"It is not as serious [an injury] as the first one, which is a little bit of good news from our point of view," Allardyce told a press conference.
"It is just making sure that we continue the right treatment, recovery and rehabilitation to get him back as quickly as possible.
"No [there is no timescale], not at the moment, not until he has seen all the specialists and we determine the way forward for Andy and his recovery.
"It is hugely frustrating, and devastating for Andy, because we were sort of thinking that this Sunday might be his first appearance on the substitutes' bench, having started to join in training.
"When we found out he had picked up another injury - not in the same place, but in the same tendon - we have to deal with that accordingly, and of course we have moved along quickly to make a signing to cover that area and give us a bit more firepower.
"So when he gets fit, Mladen Petric will hopefully play a good part between now and the end of the season."
With only Modibo Maiga and Ricardo Vaz Te available as forward cover, Allardyce moved quickly to bring in Petric, the 32-year-old Croatia international who had a spell at Fulham last season.
But a return for Carlton Cole, who left West Ham at the end of his contract in June, was called off after the seven-capped England forward failed to prove his fitness.
Allardyce, however, revealed the 29-year-old free agent could still be offered some sort of deal down the line.
"We have offered training time to Carlton, for him to try and get fit if he wants," Allardyce added.
"If he is happy with that, I would be, and we will see where we are from there, because we still have one place left in the squad."
Allardyce is expecting a response at St Mary's on Sunday to the lacklustre performance that saw his men defeated 1-0 at home by Stoke before the international break.
He said: "You always want to go into an international break with a positive result. We didn't get it.
"Then [we had] the trials and tribulations of the window shutting after that and then, of course, earlier this week, the setback with Andy Carroll, so it has made the last two weeks very difficult for me personally.
"But the squad is still very focused and, I hope, determined to deliver the performance that we know we can produce at Southampton."