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Joe Cole could seek West Ham exit in January after being hauled off early during defeat to Chelsea

Cole was visibly fuming when he was replaced after 40 minutes in the 3-0 defeat to his former club

Joe Cole could be on his way out of West Ham for a second time after reports emerged he could force through an Upton Park exit following his early substitution in the London derby defeat to Chelsea on Saturday.

Cole was hauled off after 40 minutes along with Jack Collison after the Hammers went two goals down through strikes form Frank Lampard and Oscar. The former Chelsea midfielder was furious with the decision, ignoring his manager Sam Allardyce as he left the field and tearing off his shirt before disappearing down the tunnel.

The match was Cole’s third start all season due to hamstring troubles and a spell out of the first team, and despite a bright start following his free transfer from Liverpool in January, he has since be besieged by injury – a factor that has reared its head throughout his career.

Having spent time on loan at Ligue 1 club Lille, Cole was allowed to leave Anfield to return to London after spending seven years with the Blues. Cole spent his entire youth career with the Hammers, before breaking into the first team in 1999, and he spent a further four years with the club before moving to Stamford Bridge.

He made his second debut for the club in January this year in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United, and scored his first goal since his return two games later in the 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers, although he has only gone on to score twice in 21 appearances.

One of those came in the opening day victory over Cardiff City, but he was soon ruled out for six weeks due to a hamstring injury having just recovered from a similar issue in the summer.

His current contract runs until the end of the season, with Allardyce suggesting that Cole needs to prove he can maintain a run of regular football without getting injured in order to earn a new deal.

“It’s not about proving his fitness, it’s about staying fit,” said Allardyce. “There is a big difference. A proven period of time when the injuries do not reoccur is more what we are trying to look for and evaluate.”

But it now appears that Cole could look to move when the transfer window reopens in January, although potential suitors could be put off due to his fragility having been taken off in all three of his starts this season.