West Ham manager Sam Allardyce says Christian Benteke is the main threat from Aston Villa ahead of the crunch match at Villa Park.

After a difficult start to his campaign Benteke is a rejuvenated forward under Tim Sherwood scoring 10 goals in his last eight outings with the Belgian picking up the Barclays Player Of The Month award for April.

Allardyce said: “It shows the uplift you get when you have a prolific goal scorer. When we had a player scoring on a regular basis we won football matches. When Burnley were winning they had Danny Ings scoring now that he isn’t Burnley are struggling. We’ve got to look to score more goals if we want to win more football matches.”

With Big Sam admitting his side were lacking attacking prowess the Hammers have improved defensively lately despite a crop of injuries.

Both James Tomkins and Winston Reid remain sidelined through shoulder and hamstring injuries respectively while James Collins is a doubt with a back spasm.

This means 18-year-old centre half Reece Burke, who has started the last two league games without conceding, faces a challenge against Benteke.

Allardyce insists that Burke has to be very clever on how he handles the powerful striker.

“It’s probably going to be his most difficult test,” said Allardyce. “He had a difficult test on his last away performance against Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora of QPR. He [Burke] finds himself in a position where his reading of the game has to be spot on.

“He hasn’t got that physical presence yet. He’ll have to be very clever to make sure he copes with a man that is in form at the moment. The rest of the team have to stop that service.”

Nevertheless the Villains have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League matches against the east Londoners while the Upton park outfit have won none of their last 10 league away games.