West Ham progressed to the third round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night following a 2-0 victory at Newport County but the Hammers were dealt a major blow in the process.
Manuel Pellegrini made 10 changes from the starting XI he fielded against Watford at the weekend and one of those changes was Michail Antonio.
The 29-year-old impressed against the Hornets after making an impact as a second-half substitute and was gifted with a start in South Wales, but once again injury has struck at the worst time.
Just six minutes into the action, Antonio raced through on goal and looked certain to give the Hammers the lead but went down after tearing his hamstring – and it looked absolutely horrific.
The moment he plummeted to the ground, both the fans and himself knew his night was over and the England winger is unlikely to feature in a Claret and Blue shirt anytime soon.
And it puts a damper on what was a professional performance at Rodney Parade.
Antonio was starting to look back to his best in the early stages of the season and was in contention to start against Norwich City on Saturday. However, he has encountered several muscular tears and injuries over the past few seasons and a repeated battle to keep his hamstring intact has hindered his progress in east London.
The explosive winger is full of pace, power and strength; unfortunately, this triplet of traits are often his downfall and that was the case once again.
Antonio’s name has been chanted loud and proud in the past few games and that was a credit to, not only his performances but his attitude. He has encountered his critics over the years, but the 29-year-old has remained committed in east London and was looking sharp.
Really hope it’s not as bad as we all think
— West Ham Gossip (@westham_gossip) August 27, 2019
Nobody will be more devastated than Antonio himself. Just starting to make an impression on Pellegrini and pushing for a start and he suffers an enormous setback.
When he sustained his previous hamstring tear which kept him on the sidelines for months, it took him a while to get back into the flow of the action. His dribbling was off, his passing was off and, overall, looked very lackluster – I fear this could be the case once again.
It is a massive blow, not just for Antonio, but for West Ham’s hopes of pushing for a top-seven finish. He is a talent and will be severely missed, but most are hoping the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko and Pablo Fornals will step up and make his absence less noticeable.