Manuel Pellegrini has challenged West Ham’s remaining strikers to step up to the plate after Marko Arnautovic was ruled out for a month.
Five-goal frontman Arnautovic, so often West Ham’s key player over the last year, suffered a hamstring injury against Cardiff on Tuesday night and will be sidelined until January.
The Austrian is the latest addition to a lengthy injury list which also includes Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell and Carlos Sanchez.
But Lucas Perez, who has yet to start in the Premier League for the Hammers, came on and scored twice in the 3-1 win while Andy Carroll, back from his latest prolonged lay-off, also made a late cameo against the Bluebirds.
Pellegrini said: “We know how important Marko is for our team. We have too many players injured in a month that we have to play seven games and then in January, six more games.
“But I always have the same answer – we have a squad and it is a chance for another player to demonstrate why they are here.
“So we must continue working with the players that are able to in this moment and that the others can recover as soon as they can.
“I was very happy with Lucas Perez the other day that he took his chance and scored two goals.
“I am pleased for him because he is a player that I brought to this team. I have known for years before that he is a good striker, but for different reasons he couldn’t start in other games.
“The important thing is when they have the chance, they take the chance. With the long injury to Marko, Andy Carroll is back now as well and Perez, Javier Hernandez, Xande Silva. I hope that with all of them they will cover the absence of Marko.”
Midfielder Wilshere remains on the casualty list and will miss Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace, but Pellegrini maintains the problem is not serious.
“With Wilshere it is his ankle, he’s not 100 per cent comfortable, so he will not be involved in this game.
“I think that just this game, I hope that next week he will be OK.”
Carroll, meanwhile, will be out of contract at the end of the season and needs to prove he can get fit, and stay fit, if he is to have any chance of the club extending it.
However, the former England striker will have to be content with a role as a substitute for the time being having only just returned from an ankle injury sustained in pre-season.
“When you need to renew your contract, you must demonstrate why they are renewing your contract,” said Pellegrini.
“We know what Andy can give to our team and now he must demonstrate he is able to do it week by week. He has now the last six months and I hope he will be able to do it.
“Not only Andy Carroll but every player can be a starter when they work the whole week, and week by week.
“So if he can work in the normal way, of course he can be an option to start in our XI. For the moment, I think he can be a very important substitute.”