MARKO ARNAUTOVIC is poised for a spell on the sidelines at West Ham after suffering a hamstring blow.
The Austria forward collapsed to the deck inside 40 minutes of last night’s 3-1 Premier League win over Cardiff.
After chasing a through ball from Felipe Anderson, the 29-year-old pulled up just inside the Cardiff penalty area.
And it looks likely West Ham’s talismanic goalscorer could now miss the run in to Christmas.
Starsport can confirm Arnautovic left the London Stadium on crutches last night as a result of the injury.
The club will assess the full extent of the damage today.
And the hope is that the hamstring issue will be a case of keeping Arnautovic out for weeks rather than months.
He is practically a certainty to not be available for Saturday’s visit from struggling Crystal Palace.
Although perhaps a positive for supporters is Arnautovic was in good spirits as he headed home after the game.
“Don’t worry boys, I’ll be back – like always”
The charismatic fan-favourite declared: “Don’t worry boys, I’ll be back – like always!”
West Ham can make it three consecutive victories this weekend off the back of convincing wins against Newcastle and Cardiff.
And one player Manuel Pellegrini may now turn to is Lucas Perez after the £5m summer signing from Arsenal scored a brace from the bench yesterday, having replaced Arnautovic.
Andy Carroll also made his first first-team appearance of the season, playing the final half hour last night.
Javier Hernandez, meanwhile, has rediscovered his best form too, having scored twice at Newcastle and started the two wins up front alongside Arnautovic.
Pellegrini was asked about his No.7 after his side saw off Cardiff and he said: “[It’s] probably a hamstring injury but we will see tomorrow to confirm it.”
Arnautovic has endured injury difficulties throughout this season, having been playing through the pain with a niggling knee issue.
That is believed to no longer be a problem, however, the striker has been far from fully fit since as far back as the start of the campaign.
A period of rest following the hamstring injury may allow West Ham’s key man time to recharge his batteries.
It also remains to be seen now whether Manchester United and Jose Mourinho follow up their interest in him in January given the latest setback.
For Pellegrini, though, it is not ideal timing given the hectic schedule the Christmas period offers in the Premier League.
West Ham are also looking to take advantage of a favourable run of fixtures coming up against Palace, Fulham, Watford, Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and then Birmingham in the FA Cup third round.
Last night’s three points has seen West Ham rise to 12th in the table and they are now only five points off sixth-placed Bournemouth.