Manuel Pellegrini believes midfielder Jack Wilshere has put his injury problems behind him as he battles for a regular place in the West Ham line-up.
The 27-year-old scored his first goal for 19 months as the Hammers eased into the third round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win at Newport, and could feature against Norwich in the Premier League on Saturday.
Wilshere has not played for a full 90 minutes in over a year and has been plagued with injuries following his move across London from Arsenal in the summer of 2018.
West Ham manager Pellegrini insists the club will be cautious with Wilshere, saying: “He has worked hard and now he needs minutes and to play.
“We must be careful with him to force him to play every game because maybe he can return having some injuries.
“But he is working with intelligence and improving his performance.”
Pellegrini has a specific plan for Wilshere’s training and is giving him special attention one day of the week to manage his return.
On when the former England midfielder could be back to full strength, the Hammers boss said: “It depends.
“If he can continue playing and working every day I trust a lot in him, and soon.
“The way he works is different. You see when a player is 100 per cent confident that he has his head just in working and not thinking if he will be injured or not.”
Pellegrini added: “He had so many injuries during his career. Now seeing him, not only in the last game but from pre-season working every day without any fear that he can be injured again. That demonstrates what good a player he is.”
Michael Antonio will be assessed on Friday to see the extent of his hamstring injury after he was forced off seven minutes into the Carabao Cup match on Tuesday.
Javier Hernandez, who missed the last two matches, has been training after a knock to his knee and could return to face Daniel Farke’s side on Saturday.
After spending nearly 18 months on the sidelines, Winston Reid is only a few weeks away from a potential return to full fitness.