Noel Whelan claims West Ham have been hit with a “massive blow” after Michail Antonio was ruled out against Liverpool.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former Leeds United striker insisted that the 30-year-old needs to stay fit if the Hammers are to have a successful season.
Antonio limped off with a hamstring injury after just 52 minutes against Manchester City last weekend.
Manager David Moyes has now confirmed he will be without the Englishman for their trip to Anfield but hopes he will not be out for long.
The London-born ace has scored 11 goals in his last 13 Premier League games and has emerged as a key player for Moyes in his second spell in east London.
His most recent goal was a spectacular overhead kick against City last weekend as the Hammers earned a vital point.
Asked by Football Insider how big of a blow Antonio missing against Liverpool will be, Whelan said: “It’s a massive blow. He’ll be a massive loss. He’s experienced, he’s been at the club for a long time, an absolute handful for defenders.
“What a goal he scored (against Manchester City) that agility, that quality, it was one of those goals that is up there with overhead kicks in the Premier League like Rooney’s.
“That quality, that style, that agility, that shape, to pull that off while holding off a defender was quite incredible. It’s a great goal.
“He’s one of those players who is in your team straight away because of what he brings to the side, that energy, that power, that intelligence of play, creativity.
“He needs to be fit for West Ham to be successful this season.”
In other West Ham news, a top pundit has revealed why he believes Said Benrahma has been frozen by Moyes.