Andy Carroll faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines after West Ham manager David Moyes confirmed he may require surgery.
Carroll, linked with a move to Chelsea during the transfer window, has been absent from West Ham's recent fixtures with an ankle issue.
The Hammers had hoped the 29-year-old, whose career has been scuppered by a host of injuries, would be missing for only a number of weeks.
But Moyes, speaking ahead of his side's Premier League clash against Bournemouth on Saturday, conceded that he could now be ruled out for months.
"We found out yesterday after Andy went for a scan and it showed up that he has got a problem," Moyes said. "We are not sure whether the ankle will need an operation or not.
"We are getting two or three specialists to look at it and then we will be able to make the correct decision. Hopefully we will know within a week."
West Ham striker Andy Carroll has an ankle injury and faces a possible lengthy absence, Press Association Sport understands.
Carroll has been linked with a move to Premier League champions, but now any move in January appears to be unlikely after a scan revealed the severity of the injury on Thursday.
Surgery is among the options being considered and, if 29-year-old Carroll underwent an operation he would be out for months, rather than weeks.
Hammers boss David Moyes is likely to address the matter in his media conference on Friday ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash at home to Bournemouth.
Carroll has not played since January 4 against Tottenham.
Moyes was at Chelsea's FA Cup replay with Norwich on Wednesday night, apparently watching Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi.
Batshuayi scored Chelsea's first goal in more than five hours, but his overall performance was underwhelming as he frequently squandered possession.
David Moyes has denied West Ham are ready to sell Andy Carroll this month.
The club have reportedly fielded interest from Chelsea and are prepared to listen to offers for the striker before the end of the January transfer window.
Carroll was not included in the squad on Tuesday as West Ham edged into the FA Cup fourth round after a 1-0 replay win over League One side Shrewsbury.
"They've not made contact with me. If they've made contact with someone else I don't know about it," Moyes said.
"Andy Carroll is part of my squad. I want to add to my squad, not lose anybody. There's been a lot of rumours regarding a loan but as far as I know it's not officially come from Chelsea."
Asked if he had any indication Carroll wanted to leave West Ham, Moyes added: "No. At the moment Andy has an ankle injury.
"He had an injection around 10 days ago and we hope that will settle and he will be available again as soon as possible."
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Andy Carroll has saluted the team spirit which has united the West Ham dressing room and improved recent results in the wake of star player Dimitri Payet's plea to leave the club.
The 28-year-old striker told the club's official website, www.whufc.com: "I think the lads have come together even stronger recently with everything that's going on and you can see on the pitch everyone is working together, putting the grit in and that's when the points come.
"The morale in the dressing room is fantastic. All the lads are having a laugh before and it's great to be around. Everyone wants to work for the manager and it's brilliant.
"It was tough at the beginning of the season, but we came out of that and we're just thinking about each game as it comes."
Andy Carroll felt West Ham gave the perfect response to Dimitri Payet's walkout by thumping Crystal Palace without him.
Midfield star Payet refused to play against the Eagles on Saturday after telling manager Slaven Bilic he wants to leave the club.
But the Hammers showed there is life after the France international with a 3-0 win and easily their best performance of the season.
Carroll scored what he admitted was the best goal of his career, a stunning bicycle kick, in between strikes from Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini.
The striker said:
I think we have answered a few of the critics, 100 per cent.
With everything that has been going on during the week and everyone talking it's been tough, especially as the lads are close to one another.
To put all that behind us and work as a team has been fantastic. The fans were like the 12th man and were great with their support. It was a great day all round. All the lads were fantastic and professional. They know what it means to the fans and the club.
We stuck together and everyone is hungry and dedicated - and it showed in the performance.