West Ham United are facing something of a quandary regarding the recent injury sustained by Andre Ayew. The 26-year-old forward 's joy at completing a club-record £20.5m ($26.7m) switch from Swansea City has proved to be cruelly short-lived after he limped out of his competitive debut at Chelsea on Monday night (15 August) after just 35 minutes with a thigh injury.
The Hammers lost that London derby in the dying moments thanks to a late strike from Diego Costa that came after a thumping equaliser from centre-back James Collins. Their misery was compounded by co-chairman David Gold's subsequent announcement that the Ghana international required surgery and would be sidelined for approximately four months.
That assessment was echoed by Slaven Bilic in the aftermath of a 1-1 Europa League first-leg qualifying play-off round draw against Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu, although the manager has now confirmed that there is a decision to be made as to whether or not he goes under the knife.
"It's not the first time when an injury of this scale has two opinions and solutions," he was quoted as saying by the club at a press conference held on Friday afternoon.
"One is surgery and one is without. We are going to speak to the medical staff and see what we think. I am not a doctor, so I will listen to them. It doesn't have to be today that we decide. It's not like he's got a chance of playing against Bournemouth, sadly. He's going to be out for not 'long' long, but a longer time. We have time to make a proper decision."
When asked if he would consider recruiting another player to fill the void created by Ayew's absence, he added: "Not just because of Andre's injury, no. He could be out for two and a half months, or four months, but he shouldn't be out for longer than four months. It's not ideal, of course, because we bought him and would like to play him every game, but as I said, he could be back this year and we just have to hope without moaning or crying. Is it a situation to buy just because of that? No, I'm not a fan of that."
Bilic was speaking before the second round of 2016-17 top-flight fixtures, which will see his side play host to Bournemouth in a very first Premier League outing at their new home at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. West Ham attracted the ire of Cherries boss Eddie Howe back in May after reportedly submitting a double offer to sign both winger Matt Ritchie, who has since dropped a division to join Newcastle United, and striker Callum Wilson.
The latter notched a memorable hat-trick in a dramatic 4-3 win for the then newly-promoted club at Upton Park last term before falling victim to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out for over six months. Bilic has sought to bolster his frontline this summer with the additions of Ayew, Ashley Fletcher and Deportivo Maldonado loanee Jonathan Calleri, but he insists that a move for Wilson was never on the cards.
"No, there was never a bid," he added. "I don't think a club in Europe has had as many players linked with them as West Ham. He is a really good player and he proved it last year against us, not just with his hat-trick, but with his quality all season."