West Ham co-owner David Gold reveals striker Enner Valencia could be back in action next week

Enner Valencia, Andy Carroll, Mark Noble

West Ham United striker Enner Valencia will give his side a much-needed boost by returning to action next week, according to co-owner David Gold.

With their main goal threat Diafra Sakho suspended for the next two Europa League matches and Andy Carroll out injured, the Hammers looked well short up front last time out against Maltese minnows Birkirkara.

It took a stoppage time goal from centre-back James Tomkins to spare Slaven Bilic's blushes and give the East Londoners a 1-0 lead to take to Malta on Thursday night.

The poor performance in that first leg, particularly up front where forgotten man Modibo Maiga spurned his latest chance to impress in the first team, has seemingly prompted the club to press on with plans to sign a new striker.

Queens Park Rangers star Charlie Austin and Manchester United's Javier Hernandez have both been heavily linked by the Mirror.

But help may be at hand from closer to home after co-owner Gold revealed Ecuador striker Valencia could well be available for the Europa League third qualifying round, should the Hammers make it that far.

Taking to social networking site Twitter, Gold responded to a question from a fan asking when the pacy forward, who has been busy playing in the Copa America for his country this summer, would be available.

He said: "Valencia should be available for the next Europa game, should we progress to the next round."

The difference Valencia makes

While Valencia only got four goals in 32 games for the Hammers last season after signing for £12 million, there were several mitigating factors.

He started life in the Premier League with a bang, who can forget that thunderbolt of a strike away at Hull City?

The 25-year-old was coming off the back of a successful World Cup with his country and had forged a deadly partnership with Sakho as the Hammers made their best ever start to a Premier League season sitting fourth at Christmas.

When the goals dried up he was shunted out wide by then manager Sam Allardyce and while his pace was still an asset he wasn't nearly as effective.

His work rate off the ball and the fact he can run in behind at will means opposing teams are less likely to take a chance with a high-line so he is a valuable member of the team.

Injuries played their part too, restricting him from really building up a head of steam under Allardyce, who many fans felt didn't play to his strengths.

But big things will be expected of him this season and Bilic's more attack-minded, free-flowing style should suit the diminutive star more.

One thing is for sure based on West Ham's performance against Birkirkara last week - they sure could use him.

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