David Moyes will be desperate for West Ham United’s medical team to confirm that Michail Antonio has not sustained a third serious hamstring injury of the season.
Antonio was forced off 36 minutes into the Hammers’ 3-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night after going to ground clutching his leg following a powerful advancing run.
The 31-year-old had toyed with Nuno Espirito Santo’s players alongside Jesse Lingard throughout his time on the pitch as the pair ran riot at Molineux, but had to watch on as the Black Country side strove to come back from three goals behind.
Lingard opened the scoring before strikes from Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen – who had only been on the pitch for three minutes after replacing Antonio – saw West Ham take a three-goal lead inside the first 38 minutes, and eventually see out the Irons’ 15th win of the Premier League season.
Moyes is now facing an anxious wait to see if the 31-year-old can feature on Sunday when West Ham host Leicester City with a chance to move to within a point of the third-placed Foxes.
The Scottish tactician hinted after the Wolves win that Antonio was not overly concerned by his hamstring injury, but any lengthy absence would be a huge blow to the London Stadium natives’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
“He [Antonio] felt his hamstring, but he doesn’t feel too bad now,” Moyes said, via quotes by football.london. “We are not sure yet, we will assess it tomorrow, we will check it tomorrow and see what it is.”
Moyes had described Antonio’s performance in the early stages of Monday’s win as being “as well as he has [played] for a long while”, despite the striker failing to score for a fourth successive appearance.
However, Antonio earned his manager’s praise after working himself into the ground for the team with a string of superb runs on and off the ball, while he came close to ending his recent drought in the fourth minute when Rui Patricio clawed the £10.8m-rated striker’s effort onto the post.
Antonio had stormed past two Wolves defenders to create an opening to try and break the deadlock, while his run minutes later dragged Conor Coady out of position for Lingard to steer clear of Romain Saiss and lob Patricio for West Ham’s first goal of the night.
Saiss would have been glad to see Antonio leaving the action so early having been turned inside out by the seven-goal centre-forward, before West Ham’s sole recognised senior frontman smashed the side netting from a very tight angle.
Moyes will be loath to be without Antonio when West Ham host Leicester at the weekend, knowing that the match represents a strong chance for the east Londoners to stamp their claim to Champions League qualification and keep Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool behind them.
West Ham have already been without Antonio due to hamstring injuries on two occasions this season, with an issue sustained in October’s draw with Manchester City keeping him out of action for three games and a second unrelated issue sidelining the 31-year-old for a further five fixtures.
The Hammers won three of the eight Premier League games that Antonio missed, drawing twice and losing three, but have only dropped 15 of a possible 45 points since his return away to Southampton on December 29.
With Moyes also describing his half-hour showcase against Wolves as being among his best performances for a while, the Irons chief will be desperate for Antonio’s withheld concerns proving true in his eventual tests and scans.