Failing to sign a new striker in January could cost West Ham European football, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the Irons found themselves in the “worst-case scenario” after Michail Antonio’s injury blow.

The Hammers boss confirmed on Friday the 31-year-old would miss out against Leicester City, although did not go into detail on his injury setback.

However, the Evening Standard report the explosive striker has picked up a hamstring problem which could rule him out for most of the season.

Antonio is the only senior striker at Moyes’ disposal after the Irons sold Sebastien Haller to Ajax for around £20million in January.

Whelan insisted West Ham had taken a gamble letting the French hitman depart without signing a replacement.

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However, with Antonio out, he insisted the risk could come back to bite them.

“Not replacing Haller and bringing in another striker when you just let one go for £20million, not spending their money to cover that position, up to this time they’ve kind of got away with it,” Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.

“Now it’s looking like this is the worst possible scenario for West Ham. It’s hit them at the wrong time. You’re right in the business end of the season when you need these players.

“These players have always been the difference up until now. To lose an Antonio is to lose a focal point up front. Someone that can run in behind, someone that can get in behind, gets you goals and brings others into play.

“It’s a massive miss and a big gaping hole in that very important position. It’s a worry. If they don’t break in (to the top six), I think it’s because they haven’t replaced a striker.

“The worst-case scenario has actually happened to them and that’s got be a big fear for them right now.”

In other news, West Ham have made contact for the perfect Manuel Lanzini replacement.