AFTER spending the best part of August back on his native Tyneside working on his fitness, Andy Carroll will spend the next fortnight looking to step up his efforts to make his second debut for his beloved Newcastle United this month.

The 30-year-old, who averaged around ten starts a season during six years at West Ham in the Premier League, has not played since February but is eager to make the most of his big chance back at St James’ Park.

Carroll was handed an incentivised one-year deal to see if he can prove his fitness at Newcastle and he has worked hard since joining last month to edge closer to a first team appearance.

The Northern Echo: Andy Carroll during his time at West Ham UnitedAndy Carroll during his time at West Ham United

Steve Bruce, the head coach, has given him a couple of opportunities to test himself on the training ground but the medical staff are reluctant to push him too hard amid fears he will suffer a negative reaction.

But Bruce, whose side face Carroll’s old club Liverpool at Anfield on September 14, is still not putting a timescale on when the big striker will return to action – yet is keeping his fingers crossed that it will be sooner rather than later.

“Andy will be ongoing,” said Bruce. “The basics with Andy is that is his ankle and he’s had a re-operation on his ankle. Touch wood at the minute he’s had no reaction to any physical work he’s done, which he has done in the past.

“In other words he’s been training out there and his ankle hasn’t reacted to it and in the past it has. Let’s hope he can get fit. He’s doing everything he possibly can. It should be a bit of a handful, him and Joelinton.”

Joelinton has shown signs to suggest he can be a handful in his first season as a Premier League footballer following his £40m move from Hoffenheim.

Ideally, though, Bruce would have an alternative option to lead the line in the mould of Carroll, knowing his current alternatives are more lightweight.

Yoshinori Muto and Miguel Almiron are both quick off the mark and play with plenty of energy and desire, but are yet to really show they can handle the top-flight stage in England – despite plenty of chances. Almiron in particular has grown in frustration while he waits for his first goal.

There is also the prospect of Dwight Gayle returning from his lay-off, having not featured in the league since Bruce was appointed and he is one man who the head coach would love to have the opportunity to work with.

“It’s just unfortunately when we think Dwight’s getting better he feels it again,” said Bruce at the back end of last week. “He was in the gym the other day doing some strength work and he felt it again.

“We hope for another opinion. Since I’ve walked through the door, I seen Dwight in China on the last day of training and I haven’t seen him since. Let’s hope we can get him fit, Andy as well, but see what the new specialist has to say, see if there’s nothing more sinister.

“Dwight Gayle hardly missed a game for two years. We just thought at the time, typical, he’s got a calf strain. The last day in China we thought he was very, very close. He looked as if he was going to join in with us. Unfortunately twice now, three weeks ago he felt it again, and in the gym in mid-week he felt it again.”

And, like Carroll, Bruce does not want to put any extra pressure on Gayle by singling out a date for a return for him at Anfield after the international break.

“I’ve always said I never want to put a timescale on him but two weeks will help him and a few others we’ve got,” said Bruce. “It still might be Liverpool but you can’t rush him. You would have to try to arrange something for him. The thing is there’s no reserve team football anymore.”