Belfast Telegraph

Hammers stand firm on Sakho

West Ham assistant manager Neil McDonald is adamant the club are right to have ruled Diafra Sakho out of the African Nations Cup, insisting the striker's back injury is genuine.

Senegal Football Federation president Augustin Senghor accused the club of a "lack of respect" over Sakho's withdrawal and said he would consult FIFA and the Football Association in a bid to prevent the player from appearing for West Ham during the tournament.

The Hammers have since sent Senegal independent medical reports, as well as the club's own examinations, to prove the extent of the injury.

"We've been in constant contact with the Senegal federation," said McDonald.

"There's no way he can fly, he's obviously injured and he's going to miss the African Nations Cup because of his injury and we're going to miss him because he's injured.

"We've been respectful, we've given them information and kept in constant contact with them. He's injured.

"We've asked them to come across and assess him. We've had independent scans done and scans from the club to prove the injury.

"We're not trying to stop anyone from going to represent their country."

Sakho had been due to join up with his national team on Tuesday and undergo assessment from the Senegal medical team but West Ham advised the striker against travelling.

Senegal must, however, be allowed to carry out their own tests if they want to and the Hammers have invited the team's doctors to fly to London and do so.

FIFA rules also state: "A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe.

"This restriction on playing for the club shall, moreover, be prolonged by five days in the event that the player, for whatsoever reason, did not wish to or was unable to comply with the call-up."

Sakho, who has scored nine goals for West Ham since his summer move from Metz, first sustained the injury on international duty in November and suffered a recurrence against West Brom on New Year's Day.

McDonald was unsure about FIFA rulings regarding the striker's availability but claimed the forward may not recover before the end of the African Nations Cup anyway, with the final scheduled for February 8.

"I'm not 100 per cent sure about the rule, Senegal have announced the squad and Diafra isn't in it," McDonald said.

"We're not sure how long he's going to be out anyway - he might not even be available before the end of the African Nations Cup."

"If that situation arises where he does recover earlier than expected, we'll take advice."

Meanwhile, West Ham defender Winston Reid continues to be linked with a move away from the club in the January transfer window.

Reid's contract expires at the end of the season, when he would be allowed to leave for free, but McDonald believes it would take a sizeable bid to capture the 26-year-old this month.

"Would a bid of £20m be enough? That sort of offer would make people think but we need him until the end of the season," McDonald said.

"He's weighing up his options, we've been talking to him for a long time but he's playing very well so it's not affecting his performances."

West Ham, who sit seventh in the Barclays Premier League, visit Swansea on Saturday looking to register their first win in five matches.

"Swansea have done fantastically well, they play some really good football but we've played them at home and we beat them," McDonald said.

"Wilfried Bony is at the African Nations Cup - he's scored some great goals and he'll be a big miss for them."

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