West Ham could be handed an unexpected boost as Marko Arnautovic is ahead of schedule with his injury return, according to The Daily Mail.

It was initially feared that Arnautovic would be out until the New Year, but he could return by late December.

West Ham have three more matches before the end of December and Arnautovic’s return would be a timely boost.

Marko Arnautovic injury

Marko Arnautovic limped off against Cardiff City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Arnautovic has struggled with niggles all season but still netted five goals before suffering a hamstring injury against Cardiff City earlier this month.

The Austrian was initially ruled out until January but he may recover in time for some games this month.

Although he is likely to miss the Watford match, the 29-year-old might give Manuel Pellegrini an option from the bench against Southampton or Burnley.

Marko Arnautovic alternatives

Michail Antonio started up front last weekend. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Although Arnautovic is a talisman for West Ham, Pellegrini’s men have been in good form without him.

 

Due to Javier Hernandez, Lucas Perez, Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio finding their shooting boots, West Ham have not been short of goals in Arnautovic’s absence.

The Irons have shot up to the top half of the table and can kick on when their 6ft 4in striker returns.

Other injury news

West Ham have a number of injury concerns so Arnautovic’s return will ease their woes.

Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini have not played a minute of football this season.

And they are joined by long-term absentees Sam Byram, Jack Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez and Andriy Yarmolenko on the sidelines.

Ryan Fredericks and Lucas Perez have also suffered injuries lately but could return soon.