Former West Ham striker Tony Cottee has expressed his thoughts on Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen during the Hammers’ terrible start to the 2022/23 season.

The Hammers have had a dismal start to the Premier League season, with just one win in seven games, leaving them 18th in the league.

The dip in performance levels of important players who were influential in the Irons finishing seventh last season and reaching the Europa League semi-finals, most notably captain Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen, has received a lot of attention.

Despite the Irons skipper admitting he had been ‘out of form,’ both Rice and Bowen were called up to the England squad for the UEFA Nations League matches against Italy and Germany.

Rice took over as Hammers captain full-time after Mark Noble retired at the end of last season, and Cottee believes the club will miss Mr West Ham this season.

When asked if Noble was a big loss to the squad, Cottee told Cheeky Punter: “Absolutely massive, when I played in the 80’s and 90’s the captain was the captain on the pitch and didn’t have to do much else. They would liaise with the manager of course but your job was on the field.

“Nowadays, you’ve got jobs off the field, sorting new players out making sure they are ok, community work, charity work and then go on the pitch and lead. Mark [Noble] was doing that for 20 years and he’s now not there, so it was always going to have an impact on the dressing room.

“But they have got a wonderful replacement in Declan [Rice], we all know how good he is. Maybe he is feeling more responsibility on his shoulders, but he did it last year.

By his high standards, he’s had a relatively slow start to the season, I’m sure he’d be the first to admit it. You can’t explain it sometimes as a player though, you can have a brilliant pre-season but then be awful for the first few games in the league.

“It works the other way as well, you just don’t know, sometimes it takes a while to get going. There is no doubting the quality of Declan as captain but, yes of course we have missed Mark Noble.”

After contributing 18 goals and 13 assists last season, Bowen has also had a poor start by his standards after failing to get on the scoresheet in all seven Premier League games so far.

Bowen was called up to the latest England squad but the 25-year-old was an unused substitute for the 1-0 defeat in Milan and was dropped from the 23-man squad for the 3-3 draw against Germany at Wembley on Monday night.