Jan 20 (Reuters) - With West Ham United back in the relegation zone and free-scoring Manchester City next up to pillage further their vulnerable, injury hit backline, the last thing manager Sam Allardyce needed was further problems.
It never rains but it pours, though.
Having agreed a deal to sign tall striker Lacina Traore on loan from Monaco, Allardyce was left shocked to discover the Ivory Coast international had opted against the move. British media reported the 23-year-old was now close to signing for high-flying Everton.
"I had a terrible day (on Friday) when I thought that one player was signing for us and then I found out he wasn't," Allardyce said after watching his side lose 3-1 at home to his former club Newcastle United.
"They (Everton) can apply for the work permit now. They'd have to do a separate application obviously. If we got it, they'd know they'll get it."
With England striker Andy Carroll finally fit again, signing a defender seems of more importance. Winston Reid, Joey O'Brien, Guy Demel and George McCartney are all injured, while James Tomkins is suspended.
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, short of games because of the form of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, was not a possibility though, the former Bolton Wanderers boss said.
"I think under the circumstances at Arsenal, in the position that they're in, in the Champions League and cup matches, they've had to use him as soon as any of the two defenders have been injured," Allardyce said.
"So I don't think there's any chance we'll get somebody of his quality. It would be nice if I we could.
"I've had targets and I haven't got one yet apart from (loan signing) Roger Johnson, so I'll keep going and hope we get some."
West Ham host City in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final on Tuesday with the Manchester club 6-0 up from the first match.
City broke through the 100-goal barrier for the season in a 4-2 league victory over Cardiff City on Saturday which dropped the Welsh club, level on 18 points with West Ham, to the foot of the table on goal difference.
The fixtures do not get any easier for the Hammers who travel to City's title rivals Chelsea on Jan. 29 with Allardyce blunt about their chances of ending Jose Mourinho's unbeaten home run in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
"The bottom line is 22 points out of 16 matches makes you safe," Allardyce said.
"The key element lies in taking points from those around us in the table, not expecting to go and beat Chelsea.
"Jose has never lost a Premier League game in the entire time he has been there, so it would be an exaggerated opinion to say we are going to go there and win.
"The key games are against the ones around us - and having key players back."
West Ham beat Cardiff 2-0 away prior to the Newcastle loss but that was only their fourth win of the season and first in the league since November.
Allardyce will hope reinforcements can be signed before the January transfer window closes and injured players return to full fitness ahead of four key fixtures in February against Swansea City, Aston Villa, Norwich City and Southampton. (Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien)