This article is part of Football FanCast’s Injury News series, which considers the impact of the latest updates on players’ fitness.
There could be good news soon for West Ham fans as Michail Antonio is nearing a return from injury, and having him back would be a big boost for Manuel Pellegrini.
The Chilean manager confirmed in his Newcastle pre-match press conference on Thursday that the winger is nearing a return and could be back just after the next international break – in time for the clash against Spurs on the 23rd of November.
Antonio has had numerous problems with his hamstring, and even admitted to taking supplements to ward off further injury, and it is therefore likely that extra precaution will be taken regarding his recovery.
He has been sidelined since the beginning of September but if he makes a return in a few weeks it means he will have made a swift recovery, with his original lay-off expected to last four months.
Pellegrini should be boosted by his quicker comeback, and it could help West Ham improve going forward.
West Ham have lacked flair and imagination in attack too often this season and that is reflected in their return of 12 goals from ten league games.
Antonio’s return could help in that capacity, as not only does he bring goals and assists to the side – with 28 and 18 respectively in his Hammers’ career – but also pace down the right flank and an energy that has otherwise been missing.
Should he maintain his fitness and rediscover his form he could reclaim the right-wing spot, though Andriy Yarmolenko has performed well there this term with three goals and an assist in seven league matches.
With that in mind, the Ukraine international could move into a more central position, as that could be another very suitable role for him.
It is not a position he has regularly played in but he does have the skill set to perform there, with creativity and goal scoring crucial components of his game.
And there is evidence from his career history to suggest he’s well suited to the role.
If Pellegrini does wish to fit both players into the side, perhaps with Manuel Lanzini sitting out as he did against Sheffield United last week, he may be inclined to move Yarmolenko into the centre to accommodate the returning Antonio.
Based on his eye-catching stats, with nine goals and five assists to boast from 10 appearances, it could be a successful tactical experiment from the Chilean.
A reshuffle in attacking midfield could inject a new level of prowess into their attacking play and get the best out of Sebastien Haller.
The return of Antonio should convince Pellegrini to make an intriguing change.