EXCLUSIVE By Wayne Veysey

West Ham expect Michail Antonio to be sidelined until Christmas after tearing his hamstring, Football Insider has learned.

The attacking midfielder, 29, was helped off the pitch by two Hammers’ medical staff last night after breaking down just seven minutes into their 2-0 League Cup win at Newport County.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini subsequently confirmed Antonio had suffered a hamstring but explained there would need to be further assessment before knowing the severity of the injury.

A West Ham source has told Football Insider that Antonio’s injury is so serious the club’s medics can’t scan his leg for two days but they expect him to be sidelined for between three and four months.

That would mean the winger might not play again until next year, which is a devastating setback just four games into the Hammers’ campaign.

Antonio had appeared in each of those four matches, and was selected for his second start of the campaign at Rodney Parade last night.

Losing the versatile operator is a massive blow for Pellegrini given that he is a regular creator and scorer of goals from a variety of positions.

Antonio has scored 28 goals and provided 18 assists in 132 matches for West Ham since signing from Nottingham Forest in 2015.

In other West Ham news, it can be REVEALED that the club have opened talks over a mammoth deal that could be worth up to £31million.