Are West Ham cursed? Key players like Diafra Sakho latest victims of Hammers striker hoodoo

West Ham United fans are getting all too used to seeing their best players spend long spells out injured and it is becoming something of a curse.

The Hammers seem to have their top stars constantly cut down in their prime or during an exciting run of form.

Earlier this season Slaven Bilic's side were third in the Premier League and could do little wrong.

Wins over Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea had the Upton Park faithful in dreamland.

There was even the suggestion from some quarters, including pundits like Jamie Carragher, that West Ham could seriously challenge for a Champions League spot.

Annual injury curse

But lo and behold, what increasingly seems to be an annual glut of injuries to key players has struck after Bilic lost star man Dimitri Payet, strike duo Enner Valencia and Sakho, key playmaker Manuel Lanzini and now Victor Moses too.

This is nothing new, though.

As frustrating as it is, Hammers fans are battle hardened when it comes to dealing with the disappointment of injuries to their best players.

Dean Ashton cost West Ham a then club record £7.25 million from Norwich City back in 2006 - as reported at the time by BBC Sport.

He was a long-term investment and very much in the Alan Shearer mould as his form for the club subsequently proved.

But three years later and after several attempts at a comeback following a serious injury while in training with England, Ashton was forced to retire due to injury aged just 26.

Striker light

It is not just injuries that have spoiled West Ham's enjoyment of strikers over the years either.

Around the same time Ashton was enduring his injury nightmare, the Hammers shocked the world by signing Carlos Tevez.

A cult hero to the club's fans and the man who led from the front during the famous Great Escape from relegation, Tevez left for Manchester United the following summer.

But his signing was to prove one of the most expensive in the history of the East Londoners as West Ham were fined a world record £5.5 million for breaching Premier League rules over third-party ownership of the star.

That was then followed by the award of £35 million in compensation to Sheffield United - who were relegated at the Hammers' expense - which the club has only recently finished paying off nearly 10 years on.

All too familiar story

The club's next serious foray into the transfer market for a striker was when they signed Craig Bellamy from Liverpool for £7.5 million to replace the departing Tevez - as covered by the Guardian.

He was well liked by Hammers fans for his tenacious displays but injuries wrecked his time in London - sound familiar?

Bellamy was eventually sold on to Manchester City for nearly double the money two years later with just seven goals to his name.

Then came what is probably one of the worst striker signings in the history of the club, Bellamy's replacement Savio Nsereko.

Purchased for around £10 million - as quoted in the Independent  - from Italian side Brescia, Savio was hyped up as one of the hottest prospects in European football.

In truth he ended up costing the Hammers £1 million per appearance, none of which saw him score a single goal.

The striker has had 10 clubs since and managed just a single goal in six years.

Carroll risk

Struggling with debt and scarred from seeing striker after striker struggle with lengthy injuries the Hammers eventually found the courage to splash out on a striker again under David Sullivan and David Gold's stewardship.

That man was Liverpool's Andy Carroll for £15 million - a price quoted by the Guardian for the England international.

But his story is all too familiar and similar to that of Bellamy before him. Great when fit and loved for his passion and no mean skill on the pitch, with the only problem being that he is hardly ever fit.

The big Geordie has become something of an expensive bonus for the Irons and Bilic will not be able to rely on having him available for the whole season given his record.

Current crop crocked

Enner Valencia, a £12 million striker signing, spent the first three months of this season on the sidelines after picking up an injury in Europa League qualifying.

He was then injured again against Everton last month and was expected to be out until the new year. In the same game, attacking midfield star Dimitri Payet - one of the star players in the Premier League this season - injured his ankle ligaments and will be out until February.

To rub salt in an increasingly painful wound, key striker Sakho injured his thigh against West Bromich Albion and required an operation which rules him out for at least three months if not more.

Of course Victor Moses could fill in up front. But then wouldn't you know it in the very next game, away at Manchester United he injures his hamstring and is ruled out for up to two months.

The West Ham striker curse is real and Hammers fans are praying for an exorcism.

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