Manager Manuel Pellegrini would like to see Andy Carroll get a new West Ham contract - but says the forward will have to earn it.
The 29-year-old has been unfortunate with injuries for much of his time with the Premier League club but is now available for selection again after an ankle injury.
Carroll came off the bench for the last half-hour during Tuesday's defeat of Cardiff and could feature again against Crystal Palace this weekend.
His contract runs out at the end of the season but Pellegrini does not think Carroll's West Ham tenure is definitely coming to an end.
"When you need to renew your contract, of course you must demonstrate why you need to renew," said Pellegrini.
"We know what Andy can give to our team, now he must demonstrate he is able to do it week by week.
"He has now the last six months, and I hope that he will be able to do it."
In the short term, Carroll is likely to remain an option off the bench for Pellegrini, but the manager says there is no reason the former England man cannot force his way into contention for a starting berth.
Pellegrini said: "Not only Andy Carroll but every player can be a starter, if they work week by week.
"If he works in a normal way, of course he can be an option for the starting 11.
"For the moment, he can be a very important substitute.
"We know what he can give to our team, the other day in 15 minutes, he had two or three shots, headers.
"All the other defenders must be worried if they see Andy near the box, he can give a lot of important things to our team."