Hammers hit by Noble injury blow

West Ham midfielder is set to miss the crucial league matches in November

WEST HAM were dealt another savage blow in their battle to climb away from the foot of the Premier League table, with the news that Mark Noble will be out for four weeks.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been the star player in the last month of the season, even overshadowing Scott Parker, but after feeling ill during Monday’s training session at Chadwell Heath, he was taken to hospital with stomach pains, where he had his appendix removed.

The likely recovery time after such an operation is a month and Noble will be targetting the Carling Cup quarter-final against Manchester United at Upton Park on November 30 as his return date.

With Thomas Hitzlsperger out until February and Kieron Dyer expected to miss the trip to St Andrews with a thigh injury, the Hammers look threadbare in midfield.

Valon Behrami may have to move into the middle of the park, unless manager Avram Grant opts for Radoslav Kovac.

There is better news in defence, where Matty Upson (above right) is back in training after missing two of the last three matches through injury.

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Manuel da Costa has recovered from the knock he suffered against Arsenal, and Grant is left with the choice of moving the in-form Danny Gabbidon back to left back, or pairing him with the captain.

Frank Nouble may look for a place on the bench after scoring for the reserves in their 2-1 defeat against Manchester City at Thurrock on Tuesday afternoon.

Noble’s absence makes Saturday’s trip an even tougher one, but the West Ham boss remains confident that results will improve.

“I think anything is possible and we are not in a situation right now where we can not do it,” he said.

“We need to win games, we deserve to win games and we will try to do it in the next game.

“We are only just in November, so we have time to do it.

“There are six or seven months until the end of the season, so even if we are still in this situation in April, I don’t think it will be the end of the world.”

That is a frightening thought, but the footballing Gods seem to be against the Hammers at the moment and you would not be surprised if that was the case.

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