Antonio's mixed emotions on first-team return

Michail Antonio


Michail Antonio had mixed emotions as he returned to first-team duty in West Ham United’s 3-1 Premier League defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion.

The No30 made his first appearance since 23 December after recovering from a groin injury and missing Tuesday’s draw with Crystal Palace for disciplinary reasons, but was unable to prevent the Hammers slipping to defeat at the Amex.

But rather than being too downhearted, Antonio says he and his teammates need to put the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat aside and regroup positively for next weekend’s visit of Watford to London Stadium.

“I am buzzing to be back but disappointed about the result,” he confirmed. “We just need to move on from this, we were unbeaten in six, so we just need to go on another run.”

West Ham looked to be back in the game when Chicharito equalised Glenn Murray’s opener on the half-hour mark, but a below-par second half performance, both before and after Antonio’s introduction as a substitute at 2-1 down.

“It was just one of those things where the second goal killed us. Things were looking all right and we were dealing with things.

“We had quite a few opportunities in the first half, but in the second half, nothing much really happened until their second goal and that picked up their confidence and they managed to get another one.

“We need to be professionals, forget this and move onto the next one.”

I am buzzing to be back but disappointed about the result

Michail Antonio

Antonio feels fit and ready to make his mark after nearly six weeks out of action, but knows it will take a little more Premier League pitch-time before he is at his peak.

That said, the forward says he will be 100 per cent ready to tackle the Hornets at London Stadium next weekend.

“I’ve been working hard on the training pitch and doing plenty of running, but match-fitness is different and hopefully I can pick it up quite quickly and go.

“I think I did all right when I came on, but I didn’t feel like I had enough of the ball to make a difference to the final result. Hopefully I can continue to progress.”

Manager David Moyes has employed a 3-4-2-1 formation in recent weeks and Antonio feels a position wide on one of the flanks is where he could be most dangerous.

“On the right or the left, I think, and I’d prefer to be on the left, but it’s just one of those things where I will come on, do what I can and build up my confidence as I go and move on from there.”

Antonio says the players are 100 per cent focused on their football at the end of a week where off-pitch issues have made headlines, praising Moyes and his staff for the high levels of coaching, preparation, treatment and expertise on hand at Rush Green.

“Those things are just part and parcel of the game and we can’t let that affect us. We just need to move on and keep performing professionally.

“Everything at the training ground is on point. We have everything we possibly need so we’ve got to go out, play out football and get results.

“Every game is one we need to win and our next one against Watford is no different. We’ll go out there, give our all and hopefully get the three points.”