RICHARD DUNNE has suffered another setback with the groin problem which has already required three operations.
Dunne hasn't played since suffering the injury on Euro 2012 duty last summer, and Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert revealed yesterday: "Richard is seeing the surgeon again and we just have to see what happens.
"He's a long way off (returning). He was doing alright and then had a setback. It's bad news because of the way he plays and his experience. But that's the nature of the game," added Lambert, who has warned his players that they need to win five or six of their remaining 13 matches to stave off the threat of relegation.
Villa entertain West Ham tomorrow, with Hammers manager Sam Allardyce believing he has been fined by the English FA for "speaking the truth" in the aftermath of his side's FA Cup fourth-round replay defeat to Manchester United in which United were awarded a controversial penalty and the visitors had good claims for two turned down.
Allardyce was fined £8,000 and was warned about his future conduct for post-match media comments, which the FA claimed questioned the integrity of officials.
Allardyce insisted that his comments did not suggest referee Phil Dowd or any of the other officials involved in the 1-0 defeat were biased, but felt he was right in his comments about people being influenced by big crowds in big stadiums.
"For me I spoke the truth, so, if you like, I have been fined for speaking the truth, but there you go. We move on," he said.
West Ham face Villa determined not to get sucked into the relegation battle. They have taken only eight points away from home this season and are the lowest away scorers in the division with just seven goals to their name.
Yet, a third away win of the season could see the Hammers return to the top half of the table by the end of the weekend with a potential gap of 12 points over the bottom three sides.
Aston Villa v West Ham,
Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, 1.30