Burt Andy Carroll could be out of action until Christmas following his latest injury setback, with West Ham United now poised to re-sign Carlton Cole to provide cover. West Ham fear that Carroll's freak foot injury, more commonly associated with ballerinas and basketball players, will rule him out for up to 14 weeks.
Carroll flew to Belgium on Friday to see a specialist as West Ham try to find the appropriate treatment. It is likely that the 24-year-old striker will also be sent to the United States as the club desperately seek a solution.
West Ham are not officially putting a timescale on how long it will take Carroll to recover from the injury - a damaged plantar fascia, the tissue that supports the arch of the foot - but the best case scenario is understood to be eight to nine weeks.
The club fear it will be longer, however. Carroll has not played this season, having completed his pounds 15 million move from Liverpool after a season-long loan, after suffering his initial heel injury in a heavy fall.
He returned to full training last Monday, and it had been hoped that he would feature in today's Premier League match away to Southampton, but he suffered another problem to his right foot after just a day.
The setback will also disappoint England manager Roy Hodgson with the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland looming next month. The injury is a huge blow to West Ham, who are now likely to finally re-sign Cole as back-up.
The striker was released by the club over the summer but has continued to train with them and a deal now appears close to being agreed having been shelved last month. West Ham have also signed free agent Mladen Petric, after the Croatian was released by Fulham.
Carroll's team-mate Mark Noble said it had been "tough" for the rest of the squad to see Carroll break down injured once more. "To see him come back out, happy again and smiling - but then get injured again, it's tough," said Noble.