West Ham have been dealt a “big” blow with Angelo Ogbonna ruled out of action with an ankle injury, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, compared the Hammers’ setback to the problems Marcelo Bielsa has suffered at the back at Elland Road this season.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Moyes confirmed Ogbonna was seeing a specialist after suffering a sprained ankle in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United in midweek.

The Scottish boss confirmed Ogbonna looked as though he had avoided the need for surgery but admitted he was reluctant to give a potential return date for the 32-year-old.

A mainstay at the heart of the defence this season, the Italy international has played every minute in all but one of the Irons’ Premier League fixtures so far.

Whelan admitted the Hammers could suffer a drop in consistency with Ogbonna missing but insisted the performance against Manchester United should give Moyes hope.

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Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: Ogbonna, to lose a leader, a leader at the back, is going to be a big loss for any team.

“It’s all about consistency and continuity, that’s the big key there and we’ve seen it with Leeds, when we’ve lost centre-halves and we’ve shoved in other people you don’t have that same kind of flow and understanding at the back and I think that’s the problem that they may have.

“Even though they got beat by Manchester United, look how far they’ve come. I think last season that would have been 3-0, this year they’ve shown that they’re organised, they’re more competitive, they’ve got an all-round better balance in the squad and they’re playing for the manager.

“I think it just goes to show, even though they got knocked out, they’re got into these games with belief, they’re not scared, they feel that they’ve got enough to combat and hurt other teams, which they have.

“It’s just testament to David Moyes and what he’s done with the club in a short space of time and the players he’s got out and the players he’s brought in, the right players, the right attitude, the right people who are going to give to the club, to the manager, to the squad and to themselves. 

In other news, West Ham are plotting to offload senior star as price tag plummets, Football Insider understands.