West Ham will be without Michail Antonio following a “significant injury” as they attempt to avoid being dragged into a Premier League relegation battle.
Antonio was forced off with a hamstring issue in the first half of the 1-0 victory over Swansea City at London Stadium last weekend, a result that ended a run of five straight defeats and seven winless matches.
Manager Slaven Bilic confirmed Antonio’s absence for the final weeks of the season, with the Hammers sitting on an eight-point cushion to the bottom three.
“It’s a significant injury and he’s out for the season,” said Bilic ahead of Saturday’s trip to bottom side Sunderland.
“It’s a big blow. We know what he has been giving. He is one of our best players.”
In Antonio’s absence the Croatian hopes Andy Carroll and Jonathan Calleri can split the playing time, though he admitted the latter’s long-term future at the club is unclear having spent the season on loan from Deportivo Maldonado.
“We have options up front with Andy and Jonathan,” said Bilic. “We’re likely going to need them both on Saturday and they’ll share the minutes on the pitch.
“With Andy, he could play for 15-20 minutes against Swansea, but this Saturday is completely different.
“We’re going to see about Jonathan. He’s a very good professional. He is not a regular, but he never dropped his energy. Not one per cent.”
Bilic’s own future at London Stadium is also the subject of speculation, with reports suggesting Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic is being lined up to replace him.
However, Bilic had no interest in commenting on the rumours, adding that he has spoken to the board about plans for next season.
“I don’t care,” he said when asked about the Jokanovic reports.
“I know him, we are from the same region, speak the same language, I like him a lot as a person and as a manager, he has been great for Fulham, but I am not bothered.
“I have discussed next season’s plans with the chairman and the owners.”
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