Mark Lawrenson has cast doubts over whether West Ham can last the course and challenge for Champions League qualification this season.
The Irons are currently flying high in fourth position in the Premier League table, level on points with third-place Manchester City.
There are growing suggestions that David Moyes’ side could pose a considerable threat to the so-called elite sides in the race for a top-four spot.
However, appearing on an Off The Ball YouTube video, ex-Liverpool defender Lawrenson is adamant that their squad is not strong enough.
“No, and I’ll tell him that to his [Moyes] face as well,” Lawrenson said after being asked whether West Ham are a “real contender” to finish fourth.
“I think the problem is, and I think he’s very much aware of this, [is] if you lose [Michail] Antonio, and Antonio hasn’t got the best hamstrings in the world – he has got two, but they’re not the best – he’ll have two or three weeks out but as Moyes said the problem with that is he then needs another two or three weeks to get fit.
“Listen, they’re in every flipping competition aren’t they, which he’ll be happy with, but I know already he’s thinking ‘crikey, come March time, we might have hardly any players’.”
All on Antonio?
It may come across as a fairly negative outlook given a run of just one defeat in their last nine games, but Lawrenson does have a point regarding Antonio.
The Irons sold Sebastien Haller during the January transfer window and failed to replace him during the same month, or the summer transfer window.
That has left the club with only Antonio as a senior striking option, something that may have cost them in their quest for Champions League qualification last season as the Jamaica international missed a few games through injury, leaving it to winger Jarrod Bowen to deputise at centre-forward.
Nikola Vlasic has since signed for the club and could also play as an auxiliary striker, but neither he nor Bowen is likely to pose the same threat as Antonio.
That may well leave the Irons short in the race for the top four, but as long as the 31-year-old remains in the side, they certainly have a good chance.
In other West Ham news, the Irons want to sign this ‘Brilliant’ £25.3m South-American centre-mid who won a big 2021 cup.
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