WEST HAM are praying Jesse Lingard does not become the latest big player to pull up injured as their Champions League dreams hang in the balance.
Lingard underwent intensive treatment on his aching legs throughout last week just to make sure he was available for the clash with Chelsea.
But the inspirational loan signing from Manchester United is still being hampered by the problem – leaving the Hammers concerned he will not be able to face Burnley on Monday.
Lingard, 28, has scored nine goals in his 11 appearances since arriving at West Ham to play a central role in the club fighting for a top four spot.
In an ideal world he may have been rested for the 1-0 defeat to rivals Chelsea, but with Declan Rice, Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell already sidelined, David Moyes was forced to patch him up and play him.
The forward pulled up a couple of times during the match and looked to be limping at times, something boss Moyes passed off as cramping.
But the heavy workload, including returning to the England squad last month, has begun to take a toll on his body.
Left-back Cresswell may be fit in time to face Burnley, and the hope is the extra couple of days will ensure Lingard’s body has recovered enough to be able to play at Turf Moor.
The Hammers are three points off fourth-placed Chelsea with five games remaining, although they have a significantly worse goal difference.
But there is still hope they can push their London rivals all the way, given four of their last five matches are against sides in the bottom half.
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West Ham would love to keep Lingard around next season.
But United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently admitted that the Red Devils will 'welcome him back' in the summer.
The Norwegian said: "He’s a fantastic lad and Manchester United through and through. Not once did he moan or cause me a problem earlier in the season.
"He came in and worked hard, he deserved to play more, that’s why we let him go to West Ham.
"We welcome him back and I hope he goes to the Euros, I don’t think that’s beyond him."
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