By Emma Sanders
Slaven Bilic has claimed that Diafra Sacko will make a big difference to West Ham when he makes his first appearance of the season.
The 26-year-old has not featured for the Hammers since their 2-1 victory against Stoke last season.
He has struggled with a back problem after seeing a move to Premier League rivals West Brom collapse in the summer amid reports that he failed a medical.
The Hammers manager has tipped Sacko to make an impact after showing promising signs since his return to full training, though he is unlikely to feature against Tottenham this weekend.
“Diafra lacks match practice but he looks sharp, he looks hungry and it is a big boost for us because he gives us something different,” Bilic wrote in his column for the Evening Standard.
“He goes behind the defence, he is good at holding the ball, he runs in the channels – opening up those vital pockets of space which midfielders can exploit.
“It was a big blow that we could not call upon him from the start of the season,” admitted Bilic.
Sakho scored five goals in 21 appearances last season as West Ham finished in seventh position in the Premier League in what was a hugely successful campaign.
They have struggled to find similar form this season though and currently sit in 17th position going into their clash with London rivals Tottenham on Saturday.
The Hammers lost Andre Ayew at the start of the season as well as Diafra and in their absence West Ham’s strikers have failed to score a single goal between them in 17 matches.
Bilic’s side have heavily relied on Michail Antonio for their goals, with the attacking midfielder netting five league goals already this season.
Only Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, James Collins and Winston Reid have scored as well as Antonio in the Premier League this season, taking their tally up to a small 10 goals in their opening 11 fixtures.
In other West Ham news, here is the best possible XI to face Tottenham.