Zavon Hines may miss the rest of West Ham's survival campaign after undergoing knee surgery.
The 21-year-old forward broke into the Hammers first team at the start of the season after impressing boss Gianfranco Zola with a string of zestful performances.
Hines, whose 15 appearances for the Upton Park outfit came largely from the bench, made his most notable contribution against Aston Villa, where he won his side a penalty before scoring the winner in November.
But the England Under-21 international has been out of action since the Manchester United defeat on 5th December and insists he will not risk rushing himself back to fitness following surgery.
"The operation went well.," Hines told West Ham's official website. "I was told to rest first of all and now I am able to do a few small things like strengthening work, just do things slowly and at a steady pace. Take it day by day.
"It is nice to get the operation over and done with and now I am just looking to work as hard as I can to get back. It is important I take it one thing at a time.
"I feel I am doing well, the staff at West Ham will help me do what I have to do. Most important is I take it one thing at a time.
"There is no pressure on me with a target for coming back, which is good as it means I can just get on with my rehab work and work hard, concentrating on what I have to do day by day.
"Obviously I want to be playing, but I know I have to do all my rehab work properly and it will be as long as it takes really.
Hines may well have new team-mates to contest with for a place in Zola's attack by the time he returns to action, with Benni McCarthy set to join the club before the January transfer window closes.
But the young marksman claims to be unfazed by potential new faces at the Boleyn Ground.
"I will come to games when I can, it all depends on what work I have to do," added the Jamaican-born frontman.
"I had a good start to the season and enjoyed getting in the first team. Obviously with players back and any new additions to the squad that means more competition for places, but that is fine.
"It just makes you want to work even harder, it is also a good thing all round for the club as well. For now, I am just concentrating on what I have to do and making sure that when I get back, I am raring to go."