West Ham boss Sam Allardyce says he is willing to take a “calculated risk” on striker Andy Carroll for Saturday’s “massive” game at Cardiff.
Carroll, 25, has not played this season because of a foot injury.
But with the Hammers second from bottom in the Premier League, Allardyce said Carroll could play a part.
“Ideally we would like to progress it a little slower but based on where we are it may be a calculated risk we’re prepared to take,” he said.
Carroll scored seven goals for West Ham while on loan from Liverpool last season, but has been troubled by injury problems after making a record £15m move to Upton Park in the summer.
The Hammers face 17th-placed Cardiff having been thrashed 5-0 by Championship side Nottingham Forest last Sunday and 6-0 by Manchester City in their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg.
And the manner of defeat led a section of supporters to voice their disapproval towards Allardyce, who has received public and private backing from co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
Allardyce, who received an extension to his contract last summer keeping him at the club until 2015, has said he will keep on fighting as his side aim to overturn a run of one win in their last 10 games in their attempt to avoid relegation.
But although he thanked Gold and Sullivan for their support, when asked if he would survive a defeat at Cardiff, he replied: “I don’t know, I will talk to you about that after we have played Cardiff.”
Cardiff are two places above West Ham in the table but have been buoyed by a first win for new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Newcastle in the FA Cup last Saturday.
Allardyce, who said he was trying to sign Inter Milan striker Ishak Belfodil, explained that his team’s problems had come from a lack of defensive cover, revealing that full-back Joey O’Brien had joined centre-backs Winston Reid and James Collins on the injured list.
But the 59-year-old said defender James Tomkins was back in the squad and he denied claims his players had not been committed in their last two games where they have conceded 11 goals.
The former Newcastle, Blackburn and Bolton boss said: “[The players] are committed, you can’t question the commitment. It’s an easy thing to say.
“The other easy thing to say by people in the outside world, is you’ve lost the dressing room, that goes hand in hand, then another easy thing to say is they are not fit enough. There’s a lot of rubbish that gets bounded around.
“They are in a lack of confidence mode at the minute, I can tell you that, they are distraught about the way things are but we have to lift ourselves up. The Cardiff game is a massive game, in many ways much bigger than the Manchester City game.”
On the fans turning against him at Manchester City on Wednesday, he added: “It’s always difficult. When the club isn’t doing as well as they think it should they will turn and show their disapproval, that’s an acceptable fact of management today.”
And Allardyce said of his pursuit of 21-year-old Algerian forward Belfodil. “We are trying. We have been trying for several weeks to be successful with one or two players. I thought I would be talking about one player at least today which we would have had in the country and signed but that fell into some paperwork problems.”