Knee surgery to sideline Andy Carroll for the remainder of the season
Andy Carroll is likely to miss the rest of the season after West Ham announced the striker is to undergo surgery on a knee injury.
The 26-year-old was forced off in Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Southampton and Hammers boss Sam Allardyce had hoped Carroll would be sidelined for a maximum of six week.
But the club announced on Friday afternoon that their club-record signing requires an operation, with the lasting implication being that he is unlikely to play again this season.
"Andy Carroll will have surgery on his injured knee on Tuesday following assessment by a specialist on Friday afternoon," a brief statement on West Ham's official website read.
"The England international injured his left knee during the second half of Wednesday night's 0-0 Barclays Premier League draw at Southampton. The recovery phase is expected to keep Carroll out for the remainder of the 2014/15 season."
Speaking to the press on Friday morning before the full extent of the injury was known, Allardyce was hopeful to have had the forward back in his squad inside two months.
"It is likely to be a few weeks, the medial ligament on the side of his knee has a tear in it from a fairly innocuous collision. He is wearing a brace," Allardyce said.
"I would have thought four to six weeks out if we are lucky, depending on Andy's recovery. Some players heal quicker than others. It is a big blow for him and us. It is another blow we have to cope with."
That blow is now much bigger than Allardyce would have been expecting as he looks to lead the Hammers to a top-half finish in the Premier League and take them on a run in the FA Cup - with a fifth-round meeting at West Brom on Saturday lunchtime.
The club had initially thought the problem was the flaring up of a previous knee injury - but Allardyce confirmed that this is a new issue and has said Carroll must remain strong to overcome another spell on the sidelines.
"It is a completely new injury," explained Allardyce.
"We thought it might be a recurrence but we have analysed it, unfortunately it is a new one and looks more serious than the original one.
"It is traumatic when someone is going through a period where you overcome one injury and another occurs. We thought we were there and then (he was injured against) Liverpool and now this one in a short period of time.
"It is very depressing for Andy but he knows the process and he has to be strong to overcome this injury as quickly as possible."
The latest injury for Carroll comes following a history of fitness problems since he first moved to Upton Park, initially on a season-long loan from Liverpool, in 2012. His move was made permanent the following summer but a string of issues have restricted the forward to just 24 Premier League starts.
A knee injury saw Carroll sidelined for a spell of his loan season at West Ham before he suffered a heel problem at the end of that campaign - ruling him out until the following January as he was prevented from making a first appearance since completing his record-breaking move from Anfield.
He would be struck down again during a pre-season tour of New Zealand last summer, with a foot injury - initially expected to be minor - which saw him miss the opening 11 games of the current season after requiring surgery.
The latest blow for Carroll comes after he had scored five goals in 16 appearances and leaves Allardyce with Carlton Cole, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho as his three available options in attack.
Meanwhile. during his press conference to preview the West Brom game, Allardyce was handed a copy of the dossier distributed by Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal on Tuesday.
The Dutchman reacted to Allardyce labelling the Red Devils as 'long-ball United' after van Gaal's side scored a last-gasp equaliser at Upton Park last Sunday.
The four-page pamphlet highlighted statistics which van Gaal used to refute suggestions United have reverted into a direct, long-ball team but Allardyce responded nonchalantly when handed the paperwork - refusing to allow the spat to linger.
"I shall have a look when I get the opportunity," he said.
"I don't think there is any point in me going into again. It is what it is, he has made of it what he has made of it, I said what I saw on the day and it has moved on.
"We have played another game in the Premier League since then and our focus is now on the FA Cup and progressing to the next round."