Stewart Downing is set to be out until after Christmas after suffering an achilles injury on his return to former club Liverpool at the weekend, reports the Daily Mail.

Downing required twelve stitches to an Achilles heel wound sustained in the 4-1 defeat at Anfield on Saturday, after a fierce challenge from Reds full back Jon Flanagan – a challenge Allardyce felt warranted a red card.

Flanagan infact escaped without a caution, and despite attempting to carry on, Downing was substituted at half time and sent to hospital where the extent of the wound was revealed.

A West Ham source said: ‘Ideally we would like to think Stewart will be back in action in a couple of weeks.

‘But it’s a part of the body where it is difficult to train with the ball until it has fully healed. We will just have to wait and see.’

The loss of Downing will come as a huge blow to Allardyce, who now sees his team firmly involved in the relegation battle.

Victories for Fulham and Crystal Palace over the weekend has seen the London clubs pull level on points with the Hammers, who now sit just a single place above the relegation zone.

Allardyce faces bottom club Sunderland at Upton Park next weekend, before facing Manchester United and Arsenal in succession.

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