By Noel Whelan

23rd Oct, 2021 | 2:00pm

West Ham already have perfect Antonio replacement in their ranks - pundit

Noel Whelan has suggested West Ham do not need to sign a new striker in January – thanks to Jarrod Bowen.

The former Leeds forward, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 24-year-old had more than proven himself as a capable backup to Michail Antonio.

With Antonio rested, Bowen was chosen to lead the line for the Irons’ Europa League clash with Genk.

He netted once and was a constant menace as the Hammers ran out 3-0 winners.

Naturally a right-sided winger, Bowen has featured occasionally as a centre-forward.

Whelan suggested his recent displays mean West Ham could save millions on signing another hitman.

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Asked if Bowen’s emergence means West Ham may not need to sign a striker, Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Yeah. We’ve seen him, he works again tirelessly.

“He never stops running for the 90 minutes that he’s on the field. He holds the play up, he can turn players, he likes to stretch the game. Really, he’s got everything that you would actually want.

“I don’t think there’s any reason (to sign a new striker) right now. When you get a player that steps in and starts playing that role as well as he can do, why would you look anywhere else right now?

“He always gives 100 per cent, he’s honest, got great ability and a player anybody would love to have in their side.

“I get he’s a really good player, a good person to work with, good to be around in the changing room. He will test you week in, week out in training and he’s putting in fantastic performances.

“Even when he’s not starting games at times, he will never let you down. That’s what I say is an honest player. They work hard, they’ll listen to the manager, accept when they’re playing and accept when they’re not.

“But when they get given the opportunity, boy will they come in and prove prove them wrong. Keep giving them questions to answer and thoughts in the mind of the manager.

“The manager must love it, absolutely love it.”

In other news, pundit blown away by another West Ham star after best-in-Premier-League reveal.