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West Ham dealt a huge blow as Balbuena ruled out after op

PUBLISHED: 08:30 11 January 2019

West Ham United's Fabian Balbuena (left) and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at The London Stadium, London.

West Ham United's Fabian Balbuena (left) and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at The London Stadium, London.

PA Wire/PA Images

Paraguay international could miss eight weeks of the season after recurrence of knee injury

Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (right) in action with West Ham United's Fabian Balbuena during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (right) in action with West Ham United's Fabian Balbuena during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

West Ham were dealt a savage blow as they prepared for their Premier League clash with Arsenal tomorrow (Saturday), with the news that Fabian Balbuena will not be there.

Hopes were high for a return against the Gunners for the Paraguay international, but manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed the bad news.

“Fabian started this week working with the squad, but on the second day he felt a pain in his knee, the same knee where he had the injury before,” said Pellegrini.

“I think he had surgery today (Thursday) and the medical team say that he will be out for around six to eight weeks.”

West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic speaks with manager Manuel Pellegrini as he leaves the pitch during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic speaks with manager Manuel Pellegrini as he leaves the pitch during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at London Stadium.

‘The General’ as he is known, has had an excellent season, with his partnership alongside Issa Diop blossoming, so now West Ham will either have to rely on Angelo Ogbonna, or go into the transfer market.

“Let us not link one thing with the other,” added the manager. “But having so many players out is not good. Apart from Fabian we have nine players that are out long-term.

“We will see what we will do, but for the moment we have not taken any decisions.”

That bad news comes at the same time as speculation that a Chinese club have offered £38million to sign striker Marko Arnautovic.

West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at London Stadium.

But the boss was not looking to talk about that if he could help it.

“I will answer the same with any other names coming or going, they are just rumours,” he said.

“I don’t want to talk about things that might happen. We have players like Marko that will always attract other clubs, but at the moment we have them.”

Pellegrini replaced Arnautovic after just 20 minutes of their FA Cup win over Birminham City, but he insists there is no problem between them.

West Ham United's Samir Nasri leaves the pitch after being substituted during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Samir Nasri leaves the pitch after being substituted during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at London Stadium.

“He is always my friend,” said the Chilean. “He understood what I did and he shook my hand at training on Monday as he does every day.”

One player looking to play a part tomorrow lunchtime is midfielder Samir Nasri, who made his West Ham debut last week against Birmingham.

So what does the manager expect of the Frenchman until the end of the season?

“I think that we can expect a lot from him,” said Pellegrini.

“He is a top player and he will get used to playing 90 minutes and he is also looking for revenge.

“Revenge for being banned for over 12 months and for that causing the decline of his career.”

The 31-year-old is likely to be on the bench tomorrow, as is striker Andy Carroll, who scored in the 2-0 FA Cup win over Birmingham.

Pellegrini is happy with his performances, but says he still can’t play 90 minutes.

“Carroll is improving his performances. He made a good impact when he came in against Birmingham,” he said.

“As a striker when you score you have had a good game, but Andy also cleared one off the line and had a couple of chances to continue scoring.”

The big man has until the end of the season to earn a new deal, so what does he have to do?

“I think he has a big challenge from now until the end of the season to try and renew his contract,” said the boss.

“He has shown that this is his level and he did well against Birmingham City

“What is important is for him to start having more minutes, but not necessarily 90 minutes which would be a risk of having an injury.”

Tomorrow’s match kicks-off at 12.30pm again and will be a 60,000 sell-out at London Stadium.

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