Zola confirms Cole absence

West Ham United boss Gianfranco Zola has confirmed that star striker Carlton Cole could be sidelined until the end of January by a knee injury sustained in the 5-3 win over Burnley last weekend.

The 26-year-old England international scored a first-half penalty against the Clarets, but was forced out of the game at the interval, amid fears that he was facing a lengthy lay-off.

Asked if that meant an absence until into the New Year, Zola responded by saying:"It might be like that. We don't know exactly, it depends how his knee reacts.

"We are talking about weeks not months, but we will take it day by day.

"I see this as an opportunity now to find other ways to keep the goals coming, starting from tomorrow. I think we'll like finding other solutions."

However, Zola refused to be drawn on speculation linking the Hammers with a move for out-of-favour Bayern Munich frontman Luca Toni.

The Italian added of his compatriot:"He is a player who has got experience, has scored goals and has presence in the box and he might be good for us.

"There is speculation, but I don't like talking about players that aren't here. I'd rather talk about how I can face the situation with the players I've got."

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