In the back of the minds of West Ham fans currently in a daze over the Hammers’ fine form rested one nightmare – what if playmaker Dimitri Payet got injured?
They are now living that bleak outlook as the French midfielder with the golden touch is on the sidelines for three months with an ankle ligament injury.
He was taken off in the 1-1 draw against Everton on Saturday (November 7) and manager Slaven Bilic initially spoke of him using the international break to recuperate ready for the team’s next fixture away to Spurs. But the injury turned out to be a lot worse than hoped.
Payet, 28, has scored five goals in 14 appearances since his £10.7million summer move to West Ham from Marseille and has become a firm favourite in rapid time with his deft touches and silky assists.
The club said: “Payet had a scan on Sunday and after a consultation with a specialist on Monday, it is likely that he will be ruled out of action for three months. Payet picked up the injury following a challenge from Everton midfielder James McCarthy and was forced to leave the field early in the second half.”
McCarthy received a yellow card from the challenge, prompting a sharp response on Twitter from Jack Sullivan, son of Hammers’ co-chairman David Sullivan.
Payet’s replacement on Saturday, Enner Valencia, fared little better and was taken off with a recurrence of his long-term ankle injury after 15 minutes of action.
The club added: “Enner Valencia’s ankle injury will be assessed by a specialist early next week and whufc.com will bring a further update on his fitness then.”
The Ecuador striker, 26, has been out since July after suffering the injury in a Europa League qualifying match.
Meanwhile, the Mirror reports that Newcastle are planning to make an audacious move in January to bring Andy Carroll home.
The Canary Wharf-based striker has had a miserable time with injuries since he arrived in the capital in 2013 but even now he is fit, he’s only likely to find a regular role as an impact substitute or second-choice striker.
Carroll is still eyeing an England spot but has yet to show any consistent vein of form without a regular first-team place.
West Ham are likely to try to keep him though, as they have done throughout his long lay-offs and especially now with injuries taking their toll on Slaven Bilic’s optimum 11.