West Ham manager Alan Curbishley says Dean Ashton is some way off from making a return to the first team as the striker recovers from a broken ankle.
Ashton joined from Norwich last season
Ashton, 23, was injured at the start of the season while on England duty.
Curbishley said: "I'm under the impression that it's very early in these tentative stages.
"He's going according to plan, but at the moment he's not out there with us. Even if he could get going now he would take a good four or five weeks."
Curbishley added: "Everyone's guided by surgeons, and they are quite happy with the progress.
"I've inherited the situation, so I'm in everyone else's hands - but I'm not looking for him being available for January.
"He's only just started light jogging. He's been out for so long that he's got to pack some training in before he can even think about it.
"Everyone's assuming Dean will get fit and start off where he left off - so it's a difficult situation."
Ashton arrived at Upton Park from Norwich at the start of the year and made an instant impact, helping the club reach the FA Cup final and finish in the top half of the Premiership.