Gianfranco Zola insists Kieron Dyer will not be rushed back into first-team action, despite West Ham's current troubles.
The midfielder, who has seen his career plagued by injuries, is back in contention for Saturday's home date with Burnley.
He has been sidelined since September, unable to help the Hammers out of an early season slump which has left them languishing towards the foot of the table.
In fact, the former Newcastle man has started just four games for West Ham since moving to the capital in August 2007.
Zola knows Dyer must be handled with care if he is to perform at his best, but the Italian has warned that he will not risk the 30-year-old unnecessarily.
"He's an important player and he's a quality player. It's good to have him back available," Zola said.
"When Kieron Dyer is fit he can bring something different but what we don't want right now is more setbacks.
"I don't want to put pressure on him. He's been out for a long time. I'm seeing him very positive, he's bright and he just needs to train a lot and be able to play to his standard for a long period.
"I don't think he will start (against Burnley) but I have yet to make a decision."
Zola has also sought to play down any talk of Dyer forcing his way back into the England fold ahead of next summer's World Cup, with the Hammers boss keen for the experienced playmaker to work his way back to full fitness before setting any long-term targets.
"That's (the World Cup) still a long way off," he added.
"I think he should take it easy. The most important thing for Kieron is to remain fit as long as possible so he can get his form back, and then everything else will come later."