London: West Ham's bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League has suffered a blow after midfielder Gary O'Neil was ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
O'Neil sustained the problem during last weekend's defeat to Aston Villa following a challenge from Nigel Reo-Coker.
The 27-year-old has been forced to undergo surgery and, although the operation was a success, he will miss West Ham's last five matches.
Avram Grant's side could have done without O'Neil's injury as they are second bottom of the table and two points from safety.
"It was a successful operation. I have got some joint damage in the ankle that they had to sort but I am told it went well," O'Neil told West Ham's website.
"I am disappointed not to be involved for the last five games but I am looking to get back as fast as I can next season. I will be right behind the lads and I'll be cheering them on at the matches."
"I have got my head around the timescales involved for my comeback. I have just got to keep my foot up for a few weeks and then take it from there."