West Ham assistant manager Steve Clarke has pleaded with the Upton Park faithful not to expect too much too soon from Zavon Hines.
Although the team as a whole has struggled, the Jamaica-born forward has impressed many this season with his searing pace.
Give him time: Zavon Hines scores during the Carling Cup second round match between West Ham and Millwall
England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce called him up for next week's game with Macedonia after Hines gave Liverpool's Jamie Carragher a hard time in the Premier League last month.
But the 20-year-old was put back on the bench for West Ham's most recent game, the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on Monday night, and Clarke made no promises he would start in tomorrow's Upton Park derby with fellow strugglers Fulham.
He said: 'You have to look at the bigger picture with younger players - we have a duty to protect them.
'Zavon came off the bench against Manchester City and looked lively again. He will be involved at the weekend.
'He has come from nowhere in a short space of time and we have to protect him rather than throw him in the first team and hope every game he is going to be fantastic.'
The Hammers will kick off at Upton Park in the Barclays Premier League drop zone following a run of three successive defeats plus a Carling Cup exit at Bolton. But Clarke was adamant results were likely to improve.
He said: 'We are on the right road. It's important to win sooner rather than later and we have been saying that to the players all week.
'This year we have had more shots at goal and created more chances.
'I know from watching the games we are more dangerous going forward but we have lost more goals so we are not as compact as we used to be.'
The Scot also insisted it was far too early to judge whether the Hammers are now going backwards under Gianfranco Zola, his former team-mate at Chelsea.
He said: 'You have to ask at the end of the season whether you have been successful.
'Last year, finishing where we did was a reasonable success but I want to aim higher than that and win trophies.
'I was fortunate to win a few at Chelsea and I enjoyed the feeling.'
Skipper Matthew Upson is set to return following a calf injury.
Clarke said: 'You need all your experienced players but particularly in the centre of defence.
'Matthew has been really good for us since Gianfranco and myself came to the club.'