West Ham star Antonio to miss Hull City clash but Sakho gets nearer to a return
PUBLISHED: 13:30 30 March 2017
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The Hammers travel to the KC Stadium on Saturday without three key players but with skipper Mark Noble back
West Ham top scorer Michail Antonio will miss the trip to Hull City on Saturday as the Hammers look to halt a run of three consecutive defeats.
The 27-year-old was injured during the home defeat by Leicester City, but the Hammers were hoping that he may be back in time for the trip to the KC as manager Slaven Bilic said.
“‘Mikey’ is a really good recoverer, so there was a chance he was going to make it back for the Hull game,” said the boss at his pre-match press conference.
“Although he was very close to being fit, he hasn’t made it, but there is a good chance he will be fit for the Arsenal game in midweek, but if not, then the Swansea match.”
Although Antinio should be back sooner rather than later, he adds to Pedro Obiang and Winston Reid on the injury list for Saturday’s important match.
“Pedro had a successful operation, but he is out for this season and will be fit for the start of pre-season,” said Bilic. “For Winston it is going to be another four weeks.”
West Ham will have to shuffle their pack for the trip north, but they will welcome back skipper Mark Noble who missed the Leicester City game with a dead leg.
“Mark is back in training,” confirmed Bilic. “He came back on Monday and is training sho he will be in the squad.”
Noble will slot into the team in place of Obiang, with Robert Snodgrass the likeliest to replace Antonio as he returns to his old club for tomorrow’s game.
The Scotland international has received some criticism about his performances for West Ham, but Bilic has nothing but praise.
“He has started really well for us,” he said. “He was a player we really wanted, he has everything, a great left foot, not only for set-pieces. he is a creative player and the amount of running he does is very good.
“He is still looking for his first goal, so perhaps he is going to do it on Saturday, it wouldn’t be the first time a player went back to his old club and scored.”
There was also some good news with regard to striker Diafra Sakho who returned to full training yesterday (Thursday) for the first time since a back operation.
Any prospect of seeing him on the field though are a little premature according to Bilic.
“he has been out for a long time after his back operation which is not a small injury,” he said.
“He has been training very good, first individually and then with the under-21s and now for the first time he is training with us without any restriction, so he is back on our list of fit players for training now. But then we have to consider the amount of time he was out and hope he will be back if he continues like this very, very soon, but Hull game comes too early.
“Although he is very positive and says he wants to play, he is pushing in a positive way, but we have to see how fit he really is. There is a difference between training where you can control your movements and a n actual game.”
Hull will provide a tough challenge tomorrow as West Ham look to end an alarming run of six games without a win.
“Hull have improved points wise,” said the boss. “They have changed a lot of players and have some good European players in their team now.
“Half of their team is new and they have a new manager and they have a chance of staying up.”
They do, and they are unbeaten in their last three home games, so they will go into the match with a certain amount of confidence.