West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola confirmed today that England international striker Carlton Cole will miss six weeks with a groin injury.
Cole first suffered the injury in an FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough and aggravated it in England's 4-0 friendly win over Slovakia on Saturday.
Zola said, "Fortunately he won't need an operation, it's just a problem in between the muscle and the tendon in his groin. He should be available in six weeks."
Cole has two caps for his country and has scored 11 goals for the Hammers this season. While his injury poses a problem for the England squad, which has also seen injuries to strikers Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent, Emile Heskey, and Theo Walcott, it is a much bigger issue for the Hammers.
In West Ham's last two matches, a 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers and 0-0 draw with West Brom, the Hammers featured a combination of David Di Michele, Freddie Sears, and Diego Tristan up front, with one of the three waiting on the bench. While Luis Boa Morte can play as a striker, he is not a great option.
West Ham had been struggling even before Cole's first occurrence of this injury, having not scored more than one goal in a match since January against Hull City. Without him, the club will likely have trouble putting the ball in the back of the net.
With 41 points for the year and in eighth position in the table, the Hammers sit comfortably going into the final two months of the season. Without Cole, however, it appears their faint hopes for a place in Europe next season are all but gone.