West Ham handed top-four 'catalyst' by Jarrod Bowen - pundit
Jarrod Bowen’s return to action could be a “catalyst” for West Ham to push for a top-four finish this season, according to Noel Whelan.
The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 25-year-old was a big miss during his recent injury layoff.
Bowen sat out four games, two in the league and two in the Europa League, with a foot injury.
Discussing Bowen’s fitness, as quoted by football.london (6 April), David Moyes admitted the winger might find the “first game back is OK” but claimed “it’s the one or two after are harder”.
Having scored against Everton on his return, the Irons star also netted against Lyon on Thursday night.
With the Hammers only three points off fourth, Whelan insisted Bowen’s comeback could keep the east Londoners in contention.
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Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Has Jarrod Bowen been out? Because it doesn’t look like it. Look he’s one of these players, like Declan Rice, that I think is so important to that West Ham side.
“He’s been fantastic for David Moyes since they bought him from Hull. I mean, he’s been one of the most improved players every single season. He gets better and better, more confident in his ability and becomes more of a leader.
“That desire the other day (v Everton), to keep up with Antonio is one thing but to even think that if he made that run, Antonio might score but he wants to be there on hand in case.
“It’s just the basics, that desire, that determination to get there and he gets his reward with the goal.
“Then showing how important he is not only in the Premier League but in Europe. He’s one of these players that, to me, is so, so important to West Ham.
“He’s a catalyst for West Ham. It’s put West Ham in contention for Champions League football and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
“You don’t look any further than Jarrod Bowen. I think, if he hadn’t been injured, he would have been included in the England squad.”
In other news, Kieran Maguire shreds Uefa as West Ham chief fumes over “£50million-plus” blow.