Benni McCarthy is determined to make a major impact at West Ham next season - but looks set to face competition in attack as new manager Avram Grant aims to strengthen the squad.
The 32-year-old South African failed to make it into the World Cup party this summer, but has returned early to Chadwell Heath to make sure he hits the ground running when pre-season training resumes in earnest from Monday.
McCarthy managed only five appearances for the Hammers and failed to score since being signed by former boss Gianfranco Zola from Blackburn during January after being troubled by a knee problem.
Grant, meanwhile, is keen to bolster his attacking options, with £10m Nice striker Loic Remy and highly-rated Brazil Under-17 international Neymar both reported targets.
German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has arrived from Lazio, but newly-promoted West Brom have rejected a second improved bid from the Hammers for Scotland midfielder Graham Dorrans.
McCarthy, though, intends to do all he can to become the main man for the Hammers when they kick off the new Barclays Premier League campaign at Aston Villa on August 14.
“I still have loads to prove to the West Ham fans. For me, I am like a new player coming in, because last season I am writing off. I have been training hard for two weeks now and it is all off my own back,” McCarthy said.
“I am very determined and that is why I decided to come back earlier.
“I wanted to make a fresh start – what I couldn’t do then, I want to be able to do now.”
McCarthy added on the club’s official website, www.whufc.com: “The injury is completely fine and the weight is back to normal.
“I have been following my programme since the end of the season.
“It is the first time that something like this has happened to me and I need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
West Ham’s owners have made it clear nearly all of the first-team squad are up for sale – with both England World Cup players Robert Green and Matthew Upson two high-profile names linked with moves away from Upton Park.
Striker Carlton Cole, who did not make it into Fabio Capello’s ill-fated final 23-man squad for South Africa, is said to be on Fulham’s wanted list should they lose Birmingham target Bobby Zamora.
Grant will take his squad to a training camp in Germany as part of their pre-season preparations following the friendly at Peterborough on July 14.
While away, West Ham will face Borussia Monchengladbach on July 17 and also Greek side Panathinaikos.
Grant takes his side to MK Dons on July 28 and then npower Championship side Ipswich before the visit of Spanish outfit Deportivo la Coruna to Upton Park as the curtain raiser to the new campaign.