West Ham United's hopes of moving off the bottom of the Premier League table have been dealt a blow by the news that midfielder Mark Noble has been ruled out for a month after having his appendix removed.
Noble complained of stomach pains at West Ham's Chadwell Heath training ground on Monday and so underwent an hour-long operation at an Essex hospital.
Noble is one of West Ham's more important players, performing consistently in midfield alongside Scott Parker. He has played every game so far this season. Noble's appearance from the bench inspired West Ham's Carling Cup win over Stoke City last week, as he set up extra-time goals for Manuel da Costa and Victor Obinna. Thomas Hitzlsperger or Radoslav Kovac will partner Parker and Valon Behrami in central midfield.
Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has learned he will be out for around three months after he suffered a knee ligament tear in last month's defeat at Sunderland.