West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has admitted that Andy Carroll is likely remain sidelined with a knee problem for a number of weeks.
The injury-plagued striker, 27, has not featured since the Europa League game against Romanian side Astra Giurgiu in August.
He was initially expected to make a fairly swift return to action.
“He picked up the injury in Romania and I didn’t notice that he got injured,” Bilic said at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Sunderland.
“Originally we thought it would be four to six weeks. Now it is longer than that and it is slower than we expected.
“He is progressing but not at the speed we wanted. He is improving and hopefully he will be back in a few weeks.”
On a brighter note for the Hammers, striker Andre Ayew is back in training after two months out with a thigh injury.
The summer signing limped off during the first match of the season, against Chelsea.
He is unlikely to be included in the squad this weekend, when West Ham will also be without the suspended Aaron Cresswell.
But Bilic is hopeful that Ayew will soon be available for selection.
“He looks good and the medical team have done a great job. We are all delighted,” he said.
“We will try to prepare him for games as quickly as possible. We don’t want to rush things, but it is great that he is back.”