Diafra Sakho
Diafra Sakho had scored three goals in 12 Premier League appearances this season before his latest thigh injuryGetty

West Ham United have been dealt a cruel blow ahead of their visit to Manchester United, with the club revealing that Diafra Sakho is set to be sidelined for approximately three months as a result of the thigh injury he sustained during the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Manager Slaven Bilic had initially anticipated a layoff of between four to eight weeks for the striker, but that timeline has now been extended after a visit to a specialist confirmed that he will need to undergo surgery.

Such a problem is the latest in a long line of thigh issues to have plagued Sakho in 2015. In addition to missing the final weeks of last season with a torn muscle, he was ruled out for most of November after suffering a rupture in training. His absence comes at a critical time for the Hammers, who are also expected to be without Dimitri Payet until February due to ankle issues.

"West Ham United striker Diafra Sakho consulted a specialist on Thursday afternoon (3 December) to further assess his thigh injury," the club confirmed on 4 December. "The Senegal international will undergo surgery on Saturday.

"The expected rehabilitation time from the operation is expected to be approximately three months. With West Ham United travelling to Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday, manager Slaven Bilic is likely to turn to Andy Carroll or Nikica Jelavic as the Londoners look to return to winning ways."

With Enner Valencia not expected to return from his own ankle injury for another fortnight, Bilic hinted strongly in his pre-match press conference yesterday that Carroll would be relied upon to lead the line in Sakho's absence. The 26-year-old has made nine appearances in all competitions since returning from his own injury nightmare against former club Newcastle United in September, notching his only goal of the season in the 2-1 defeat of Chelsea.

The manager has also warned supporters not to expect West Ham to adopt a gung-ho approach during the January transfer market as a result of losing two of their key performers for much of the campaign. Writing in his latest column for the London Evening Standard, the Croatian said: "We are not going to panic buy next month after losing Diafra Sakho for what could be up to eight weeks.

"In terms of the quantity of injuries, we are not struggling to anywhere near the level of some other teams. But the ones we do have out are all attacking players, very influential to the way we play. We will continue to assess what we do over the coming weeks. But don't expect any sudden changes in our transfer spending as we are calm about the situation."