West Ham allow Cole to leave

West Ham United have decided to release striker Carlton Cole, BBC Sport confirms.

The former Chelsea youngster has had a difficult season at Upton Park, scoring only twice in the last campaign. His last strike came in the defeat to Everton before Christmas, and Sam Allardyce has decided the attacker does not fit into his future plans.

He said: “Carlton’s need at his age is to be playing football as often as he can. We felt it better he found pastures new.

Cole had loan spells with Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa in his Chelsea days, before signing permanently for the Hammers in 2006.

He has found the target 59 times in 237 appearances, and also won international recognition from England, winning seven caps under Fabio Capello’s time in charge of the Three Lions.

West Ham fans will remember Cole most fondly for scoring the first goal in last season’s Championship play-off final against Blackpool that helped the east Londoners back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The 29-year-old indicated on Tuesday night of his impending departure from the Boleyn Ground through his Twitter account.

He tweeted: “Life is filled with ups and downs – today is a down but I’ll be back! Carlton Cole has left the building.

The club also announced on Tuesday the signing of Razvan Rat from Shakhtar Donetsk.

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