Cameroon U-turn set to deprive Hammers of Song for a month

Ross McLean
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WEST HAM are bracing themselves for a major blow ahead of tonight’s FA Cup third round clash at Everton as influential midfielder Alex Song looks set for a prolonged absence with Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Song was initially left out of the Cameroon squad having been omitted from the international picture since his red card against Croatia at last summer’s World Cup but is said to have met a national team delegation yesterday.

The 27-year-old has been pivotal in West Ham’s ascent this season, a key factor together with a growing injury list in persuading Cameroon boss Volker Finke into a rethink. Nations have until tomorrow to make any alterations to their submitted squads.

If Song is called up he will miss matches against Swansea and Hull, while showdowns with Champions League rivals Liverpool and Manchester United fall into that bracket should Cameroon progress to the tournament’s quarter-finals and beyond.

The Irons are already set to lose Senegal midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate to AFCON duty while leading scorer Diafra Sakho is having his back injury assessed before a decision is made on his availability.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, has confirmed he expects contract rebel Winston Reid to leave the club once the New Zealand defender’s current deal expires at the end of the season.

Allardyce said: “He hasn’t said he is going to sign and he hasn’t said he isn’t but you would err on the side that he isn’t by the feel and look of it at this moment in time.”