West Ham striker Franco pleads for winter break in England

Ben Welch MEXICAN striker Guillermo Franco cursed West Ham s injury crisis after Monday s limp surrender at White Hart Lane against arch rivals Tottenham.

Ben Welch

MEXICAN striker Guillermo Franco cursed West Ham's injury crisis after Monday's limp surrender at White Hart Lane against arch rivals Tottenham.

A depleted Hammers side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat with barely a whimper as they lost left back Herita Ilunga and midfield general Scott Parker to injury in the early stages.

"We lost Scott and Herita inside the first 20 minutes and it made it hard because they are important players for us," bemoaned Franco.

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"It was a very difficult game. Tottenham are a strong team and have fantastic players. We tried hard and did some good things, but Tottenham were the better team."

The two latest casualties will have to join the swelling queue outside physio Andy Rolls' treatment room.

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They will find themselves behind Carlton Cole, Mark Noble, Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon, Luis Boa Morte and Zavon Hines.

Champions League-chasing Spurs showed little sympathy for the Hammers' walking wounded as Luka Modric marked his first start in four months with the opening goal in the 11th minute.

The Croat, who broke his shin on August 29, swept home Aaron Lennon's deflected cross to give the hosts the lead. Former Hammer Jermain Defoe secured the three points for Spurs with an explosive finish nine minutes from time.

Franco, who joined West Ham on a free this season, after three years with La Liga giants Villarreal, believes the Hammers injury crisis owes much to English football's gruelling schedule over the festive period.

"We have had two games in 48 hours and it is crazy - only in England do you play twice in such a short space of time," grumbled the 33-year-old. "I have never done it before in my career, not in Argentina, Mexico or Spain.

"It's very difficult for everyone and for us to play a very important match and lose those two players."

Franco added: "I feel very tired and I feel down because we lost, but it's important that we retain a positive feeling for the future.

"We have some injuries, so I will take care of myself over the New Year and will be back to help the team in 2010."

Franco will get the chance to rest his tired legs on Sunday when the Hammers host Arsenal in the FA Cup.

West Ham's number 10 is suspended after picking up five bookings. Gianfranco Zola's striking options will be limited to Frank Nouble and Alessandro Diamanti.

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