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Allardyce fortunate to have kept Carlton Cole as Andy Carroll injured

West Ham United, 11/1 shots with Coral for a top six finish, have lost Andy Carroll to yet another injury, and the centre forward is set to miss the rest of the season.

Initially expected to miss just six weeks with a knee problem, that prognosis has now been worsened with Carroll now to sit out what remains of the campaign. Injuries are beginning to wreck his career for both club and country.

With Rickie Lambert struggling to make an impact at boyhood club Liverpool, it had looked like a more traditional target man option may have been open in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, but Carroll will now miss out on a recall for matches with Lithuania (a Euro 2016 qualifier) and away to Italy.

This would in turn suggest that the Three Lions’ shift towards youth in attacking areas looks inevitable, with national boss Hodgson saying in-form Spurs striker Harry Kane is worthy of a senior call-up.

Keeping Carlton Cole, who was on the verge of joining West Bromwich Albion on winter window transfer deadline day, now looks like a blessing in disguise for Hammers boss Sam Allardyce.

All West Ham’s eggs are not in one basket for forward areas, though, as summer signings Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have added a different dimension with a pacy threat in behind or on the break.

Switching to a diamond formation has also benefited these forwards, who are prepared to split and drift into wide areas. This added mobility is another option to target men Carroll and Cole.

Big Sam can still have the best of both styles, however, since a reported last ditch failure to land Emmanuel Adebayor from London rivals Tottenham blocked Cole’s Upton Park exit.

While the top four looks beyond the Hammers, a decent run in the FA Cup is certainly not. Odds of 11/1 make West Ham fourth-favourites, behind Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, to lift that trophy.