West Ham’s Michail Antonio looks set for a new 15k mile round trip and three games in a week with Jamaica despite David Moyes concerns.
Antonio has been struggling for form, goals and consistency in a West Ham shirt since October of last year.
He looked back to something like his hustling, bustling best in the Europa League win over Sevilla on Thursday night, tormenting the Spanish side and laying on a goal for Tomas Soucek.
But he cut an agitated figure in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Spurs and spurned two very good chances as he continued his Premier League goalscoring drought.
Hammers boss Moyes hauled Antonio off for Andriy Yarmolenko just 10 minutes into the second half with the score at 2-1.
After the game Moyes criticised the striker for his performance. And the Scot admitted he was also concerned about protecting Antonio’s delicate hamstrings.
“No (it was not a pre-arranged substitution) I just didn’t think he was contributing enough to the team,” Moyes said on Sky Sports.
“We needed to try something else. Mic’s played a lot of football as well so I’m always thinking about his hamstrings and not overcooking it.”
The West Ham boss stated he was grateful for the two-week international break to give his players some rest and a chance to refresh for the run in.
“I think it is not just me but all the managers are happy for the break because of the intensity of the games,” Moyes said in his post match press conference after a lethargic defeat to Spurs (Football.London).
If one player needs that time out more than any other it is probably Antonio.
But instead West Ham’s only striker Antonio looks set for a new 15k mile round trip and three games in a week with Jamaica despite Moyes’s concerns.
Jamaica are second bottom of their eight-team World Cup qualifying group with only pride to play for in the final matches of the Qatar 2022 campaign.
West Ham’s Michail Antonio set for new 15k mile round trip and three games in a week with Jamaica despite David Moyes concerns
If selected for the Reggae Boyz, West Ham’s Antonio faces another 15,000 mile round trip from London to Jamaica and back via Canada.
Antonio would have a game against El Salvador in Jamaica on Thursday before flying to Canada for another match three days later.
It is then back to Jamaica to take on Honduras on Thursday March 31st and then a race against time to get the return flight to England and be ready for West Ham’s crunch match against Everton on April 3rd. It would see Antonio rack up nearly 15,000 air miles and almost 30 hours flying time.
The only glimmer of hope for West Ham is that temporary head coach Paul Hall is being urged to turn to local island-based talent before naming 23-strong Reggae Boyz squad (The Voice).
“Although there are 14 confirmed who ply their trade overseas, primarily in Europe and North America, Hall is going to take a camp in order to add squad members who mainly compete in the Jamaica Red Stripe Premier League,” The Voice claims.
“The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who have come under intense public criticism for the team’s dismal CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign, desperately want Hall to introduce some locally-based talent.
“The Boyz, who have collected just the one victory after 11 games, are simply playing for pride. This is because they have failed miserably to qualify for this year’s prestigious FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar.”
Antonio’s desire to represent his county should not be criticised or questioned.
But West Ham are at a crucial stage of their season if they want to secure European football again next term via the league and possibly even win the Europa League.
So they really need their only striker refreshed, fit and firing.