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West Ham star Dimitri Payet's injury return date has no guarantees

Payet Skill

West Ham United star Dimitri Payet was ruled out for three months with an ankle injury but he could be sidelined longer than first thought.

The French star, who has lit up West Ham's season with his brilliant performances, goals and assists, sprained his ankle after a crude tackle from behind by Everton's James McCarthy last time out.

In the aftermath of the game fans and pundits agreed McCarthy should have seen red for the challenge.

And the Hammers were left red with anger when they learned the injury would keep their new hero out until February.

There was some positive news for Payet earlier this week when a specialist said the midfielder would not need an operation.

Only back by February 'if all goes to plan'

But in his latest column on the club's official website, West Ham's head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke warned Payet will only be back within three months 'if all goes to plan' with his rehabilitation.

"After consulting the specialist on Monday, the ankle specialist decided not to operate on Dimitri, which is good news.

"The bad news is that he will still be out for 12 weeks if all goes to plan.

"Dimi is an intelligent, experienced football player with a good body awareness and understands the biomechanics of the injury he has suffered. He is a top professional and positive about the rehabilitation period ahead.

"The ligaments are damaged and need to get strong again, and this is done by allowing scar tissue to develop."

Hammers have the strength in depth to cope

Payet is expected to wear a special boot for the next two weeks to keep the joint in a certain position, allowing the body to heal without straining the injured ligaments before stepping up his rehab schedule.

There are fears Slaven Bilic's side ill struggle to maintain their free-scoring attacking threat with the enigmatic star.

But for once the Hammers have plenty of back-up in their squad with the likes of Manuel Lanzini ready to step into his sizeable shoes.

With Pedro Obiang expected back this weekend and Alex Song not far away from a first team return Bilic will have plenty of options but may need to tinker with the shape of his side somewhat.

The Hammers travel to White Hart Lane for a big London derby against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.

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