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Was Enner Valencia’s Injury a blessing in disguise?

Many supporters hung their heads in frustration on Thursday night as Enner Valencia was hurriedly stretchered off before half-time in West Ham’s 3rd qualifying round game of the Europa League.

He is yet another player to add to the lengthening list of long term absentees from previous seasons and with Andy Carroll only just beginning his return to training, many supporters would consider this an injury crisis in the attacking department.

The title of this article is in no way a criticism of Enner Valencia as a player, but only that his injury may have forced the club’s hand into acquiring another striker.

This was evident to me after the recent pre-match interview conducted with manager Slaven Bilic, that although the transfer window is still open, the club weren’t in a hurry in respect of recruiting in that area.

“We are not panicking,…but if we can find one or two players that can make the team better.

“I’m happy with my squad. The transfer window is still open just like every other club, so there is still the possibility that some players will come and some will go.”

Although it’s refreshing to hear Bilic’s confidence in the squad he has, I would raise a huge question mark over the reliability of the front line, and I believe that the Hammers have to bring in a new striker of top quality, maybe even two.

Diafra Sakho showed last season that he can find the net at this level, but he is injury prone so I wouldn’t like to place money on him being available throughout the campaign, especially if West Ham’s involvement in the Europa League continues.

Enner Valencia looked absolutely world class for the first half of last campaign, but tailed off worryingly in the second half of the season and, at the moment, is not a member of the squad that can be relied on for goalscoring.

Andy Carroll has shown time and time again that he can be an absolute handful. Not only is he one of the best headers of a football in the country, he is surprisingly talented with the ball at his feet. But his shocking injury record is there for all to see and won’t be 100% fit until late September at the very earliest.

Other than those names, West Ham are left with Mauro Zarate who hasn’t played much football over the last 12 months, Modibo Maiga who is just not good enough to play at Premier League level and the new young man Martin Samuelsen who has looked very promising but is still only 18 years old.

All it will take is a long term injury to one of the main three to leave them desperately short of striking options. Therefore, the long term injury to Enner Valencia may well have just sprung the club into action, to acquire a quality front man.

Charlie Austin would be the main target for me, after his scoring record in a very poor team last year. But many would argue that he is injury prone, and we all know what West Ham’s luck is like with injuries.

Other names mentioned have been Javier Hernandez, but that’s unlikely to be an option unless Manchester United sign a couple of strikers themselves.

Jack Sullivan, son of co-owner David Sullivan, gave a big clue on social media this morning that a deal has been formally agreed for a new player in need of a work permit. That is widely believed to be Athletico Madrid striker Raul Jimenez.

Having watched nearly all of the games in pre-season, West Ham have shown several glimpses that they could pull up a few trees this year. They have a very solid back line after the arrivals of Angelo Ogbonna and Carl Jenkinson and they have been creating an awful lot of chances in games, mostly through midfield maestro Dimitri Payet. A signing of a quality striker to put those numerous chances away could lead to West Ham having a very successful season under Slaven Bilic.

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