By Amir Mir

Paul Merson believes it was “bad business” for West Ham to sell James Tomkins, as he predicts Slaven Bilic’s side to draw 1-1 against Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.

Sky Sports pundit Merson has slammed the east London club for selling defender Tomkins for £10million to Crystal Palace during the summer window in light of their recent run of form.

Bilic’s side have conceded a league high of 16 goals during this campaign, including eleven goals in their previous three league encounters.

The Hammers were beaten 3-0 by Southampton at the London stadium on Sunday, which added to their woeful start to the season, as they now sit in the relegation zone with three points.

Ex-Arsenal forward Merson highlighted the strugglers for Bilic’s men, as he identified the mistake in selling Tomkins during the summer.

“This could be any score either way,” Merson wrote in his Sky Sports column. “West Ham are really struggling, their defence is all over the place and they are not playing to the standards they were last season.

“It was bad business to sell James Tomkins. He might not be the difference, but he makes a difference. He can play at centre-half or full-back, he is comfortable on the ball and at the moment they have no defenders. They sold him for just £10m, it wasn’t a huge fee.”

The Irons have played Winston Reid, James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna at centre-back, while Michail Antonio, Sam Byram and summer arrival Alvaro Arbeloa have played at right-back.

Adding to their league woes, the east London club were also knocked out of the Europa League qualifier by Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu.

The Hammers ended their 112-year association with the Boleyn ground last season and moved to the London stadium this term where they have lost three out of five games in all competitions.

In other West Ham team news, this attacker gives his verdict on Sam Allardyce after he was sacked by England.