Allardyce makes plea for winter break
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has reopened the debate over a winter break as his side prepare to host QPR on Saturday.
With the nation in the grip of freezing conditions, some of this weekend's Barclays Premier League matches could fall to the weather.
The Irons squad enjoyed a short break in Dubai at the end of February last year, and on their return to action lost just one of the remaining 14 npower Championship games as they secured promotion through the play-offs.
Allardyce sees no reason why a few days of warm-weather rehabilitation could not be factored into what is now a draining campaign for all clubs.
"You do not need a long one, and at the end of the day you would not flog a racehorse like you would flog our players," said Allardyce.
"There is a lot of research out there to suggest a winter break benefits football clubs in Europe from suffering less injuries.
"It shows it is of great benefit, but the fixture congestion with the Premier League and the other leagues find it very difficult to fit in.
"They would say 'What benefit would two weeks make?' Well a hell of a lot if you could leave your players doing nothing for a week in terms of rest and recuperation, physically and mentally.
"That would get them re-energised physically and mentally and ready to move forward again.
"After we went away to Dubai for four days last year, we only lost one game after that, went all the way through to the play-offs and won the last six games on the trot.
"The physical output of the players increased to what they were achieving before they went away.
"It shows you that just a few days in fact can make a difference."
West Ham lost their midweek FA Cup third-round replay at Manchester United and have recorded just one league win in their last six outings.
While the gap on the relegation zone stands at seven points, Allardyce knows the importance of keeping a healthy distance over the battle for survival.
"When you play the big boys it is always great if you put a good performance in and if you get a result it is a magnificent result, as it was when we beat Chelsea 3-1, but it is not as important as beating the teams that are below you," Allardyce added.
"At this stage of the season, as the games tick by, you don't want them getting that bit close to you as it brings the pressure on you.
"There is concern there, but we still have a reasonable distance between us and the bottom three.
"We must always remember our level of performances this year have suggested that if we continue to get that level we will be good enough to stay clear."
The Hammers should have defender Joey O'Brien and Mark Noble back from hamstring and calf injures respectively, but James Collins (hamstring) will be assessed.
New signing Wellington Paulista may need more time before being included, while striker Andy Carroll and defender George McCartney (both knee) continue their rehabilitation.
Loic Remy could make his debut for QPR after signing from Marseille.
The France international striker has denied he had snubbed Newcastle in favour of joining QPR because of the financial package offered by the Premier League's bottom club.
Newcastle great Alan Shearer expressed his surprise at Remy's decision and suggested that money was the motivating factor, but the #8million capture revealed the influence of QPR manager Harry Redknapp was key.
"The finance doesn't come into it at all because Newcastle offered me a very good contract as well," Remy said.
"I've seen that a lot of people are surprised I came to QPR and say that I came here for money, but my decision was no way based on financial reasons.
"I could have stayed at Marseille because I had a good contract there. There are a number of reasons for why I had to leave Marseille for here.
"QPR were very open, they wanted me and it's great to be here. It's true that I hesitated between Newcastle and QPR. I went to meet the staff at Newcastle and there came a time to make a decision and I made that decision based on two factors.
"Firstly I already knew the coach Harry Redknapp and secondly, I'm very excited by the project QPR have here for the future.
"It's a big challenge and the team are in a difficult situation, but since Harry Redknapp has been here things have changed a great deal."
Junior Hoilett (hamstring) returns for QPR, but Esteban Granero (hamstring) and Armand Traore (knock) are doubtful.
Samba Diakite is at the African Nations Cup, Jose Bosingwa (back) is out and Andrew Johnson (knee) and Bobby Zamora (hip) are absent.