WEST HAM are considering making a late bid to sign Daniel Sturridge on loan.
The Hammers have been hit by an injury crisis up front with Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Diafro Sakho all hit by fitness problems.
Boss David Moyes had no intention of signing a striker this month when the transfer window opened, but has been forced to rethink his plans.
And one of the few ready-made front men available is Liverpool outcast Sturridge, who is desperate to leave Anfield to keep his World Cup dreams alive.
The Hammers have long shown an interest in Sturridge, but have been put off from making a bid because of his poor injury record.
But after Arnautovic was hit by a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him out for at least three weeks, the club may be forced to take a gamble.
They had already seen Carroll sidelined for three months after suffering a fairline fracture in his foot, while Sakho has been dogged by back and hamstring problems all season.
Liverpool are willing to let Sturridge leave on an initial loan deal for a fee of around £5million, but only if an agreement to make it permanent for £25m in the summer is pencilled into the deal.
Before they would commit to such an arrangement, the West Ham board will seek extra assurances 28-year-old Sturridge has no on-going injury issues.
With Andre Ayew poised to leave the club this month, Moyes only has Javier Hernandez and youngster Toni Martinez available to him up front.
Michail Antonio has been used as a makeshift centre-forward in the past but he is still working his way back to full fitness following a hamstring problem.
And with the club still in the thick of the relegation battle in the Premier League, Moyes knows he can ill-afford to be left short of players who can score goals.
But should the Hammers want to get a deal done they will have to move quickly, with Sturridge already having offers to move overseas.
Inter Milan are pushing hard to get a loan deal agreed, though that move is stalling over the demands from Liverpool for the clause over a permanent deal in the summer.
Sevilla are also trying to reach an agreement with Liverpool for Sturridge, with the chance to play in La Liga one the striker is understood to be tempted by.
The main thing for the player is to get out and get regular first team football, in the knowledge he will not be chosen by Gareth Southgate for his Russia 2018 squad unless he is starting matches week-in week-out.