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Chelsea are flawed, but implosion unlikely

By ESPN Staff

West Ham wait on Noble injury news

Mark Noble appears certain to miss West Ham's Premier League game at Manchester City on Sunday, although the full extent of his stomach injury was still being assessed.

Tests on Tuesday confirmed the midfielder did have a problem, which was feared could be a hernia. Should further assessment back that up, the 23-year-old would likely require surgery that would end his season.

Noble left the field on a stretcher an hour into Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea after going down with pains in his lower stomach. He had already missed six weeks this term with appendicitis and has had groin problems in the past.

Losing him would be another massive blow to West Ham's survival hopes, with fellow midfielders Scott Parker and Gary O'Neil also currently sidelined. Parker is unlikely to return until after Sunday's game, having already missed the last two matches with an Achilles problem, while O'Neil's season is over because of a serious ankle injury.

That would mean another start in midfield for Jonathan Spector, who had been known primarily as a defender until this term. The 25-year-old is just happy to be playing as he looks to help the Hammers climb back off the foot of the table during the final month of the campaign.

He told his club's official website: "I think every player wants to play. They are massive games (coming up) and it is a big stage for us. There is certainly the added pressure of that Premier League status, which we definitely want to hang on to.''

Spector was part of the West Ham side which pulled off the 'Great Escape' from relegation four years ago by beating Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"It is a very different team from the one we had that stayed up,'' he said. "It is a strong team that we have right now, probably stronger than we had back then. But it hasn't happened for us this season but now we have to come together as a group and get some points.''

He added: "There could be quite a few players who could have an important role and have a massive impact on these games that we have left. There have been times when we have played really good football and a lot of people have been looking at us and saying, 'They are too good to go down'.

"They were saying that about Newcastle a couple of seasons ago and we don't want to repeat what they did. I am not sure there is a secret. It is about hard work and determination and the guts to want the ball, to want to play and to stick to your gameplan even if it is not going well for you.''


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