West Ham have been dealt a “killer blow” with Declan Rice and Michail Antonio both ruled out through injury.

That is the view of former Premier League striker Noel Whelan who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed teams would no longer “fear” the Irons without their two star men.

As confirmed by David Moyes, Antonio has joined Rice in the treatment room ahead of Sunday’s clash against Leicester City.

While the Scottish boss did not say when he expected the striker to be back, the Evening Standard claim the hamstring problem could keep him out for much of the season.

Meanwhile, Rice could be out for up to a month after suffering a knee injury on international duty.

Whelan admitted losing the duo was a “huge blow” in the Hammers’ pursuit of European football.

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He suggested Moyes would miss not only their quality but their personalities out on the pitch.

Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “Huge blow. Two massive players for the club that really pushed them into the Champions League positions.

“To lose those two key players is a huge blow for David Moyes and West Ham because they are pivotal to their success.

“Two massive, massive personalities and characters within the side and two players that people with fear.

“People know that they’re strong in that West Ham setup and to not have them available, that’s a killer blow for them.

“That could hamper their prospects of Europe and if they’re out long term.”

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