West Ham forward Michail Antonio has a chance of returning to action on Monday night when the Hammers face Sheffield United at the London Stadium, having missed the FA Cup tie against Manchester United in midweek because of fatigue. Manager […]
West Ham forward Michail Antonio has a chance of returning to action on Monday night when the Hammers face Sheffield United at the London Stadium, having missed the FA Cup tie against Manchester United in midweek because of fatigue.
Manager David Moyes felt it necessary to leave the 30-year-old out of the squad for that game, having earlier chosen to withdraw him in the 0-0 draw with Fulham last weekend when West Ham were chasing a late winner.
Antonio has been struggling with fatigue, although Moyes hopes the former Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday will be ‘very close’ to making a return by kick-off on Monday.
“He is doing well. He’s done a little bit on the grass and we’re trying to get him back quickly, so hopefully he will be very close [for Monday],” Moyes explained, via WHUFC.com.
When fit, Antonio has been West Ham’s starting striker all season. But he missed a chunk of games earlier in the campaign and has since started six consecutive Premier League games in the space of a month, plus 90 minutes in a tiring FA Cup third round tie against Stockport.
That workload took its toll on a player who has never managed to make more than 38 appearances in all competitions in a single season since he joined West Ham in 2015. Only once during that time has he played more 30 games in a single league season for the Hammers.
Antonio is a popular choice in Fantasy Premier League this season, with a much cheaper price point than the elite strikers in the game but still a reliable points scorer.
Moyes is hopeful he will play against Sheffield United, a team against whom West Ham would expect to score goals, but that is not confirmed and he is still listed as a doubt.
What may force Moyes’ hand is a lack of other options up front. The club sold Sebastien Haller in January without bringing in a replacement, while winger Andriy Yarmolenko, who filled in for Antonio in the FA Cup, could be ruled out for a significant period of time with a knee injury.
West Ham will be without experienced centre-back Angelo Ogbonna against the Blades. The Italy international suffered a high ankle sprain at Old Trafford and, while it does not require surgery, there is no set date for his expected return.
“It is a big blow because he’s been magnificent in the games he has played and his leadership has been really important to us as well,” Moyes said of Ogbonna.
“I don’t have a timeframe and I wouldn’t want to put one on it either because obviously we want to get him back quickly. My understanding is it doesn’t need surgery at the moment so that’s a good thing, but it’s getting checked by the specialist and I might know more in the next few days.”
Issa Diop was another potential doubt after a clash of head in the cup game saw him become the first player in English football replaced by the new concussions substitutes rule. It was a precaution but the Frenchman was deemed to be fine later that night.
“Issa is fine and he was fine immediately after and he actually came in and did some training the next day, so I have no problem with Issa as far as that concern goes,” Moyes said.
Fabian Balbuena is a doubt, meaning Craig Dawson will likely partner Diop in central defence.