West Ham midfielder Michail Antonio could return from injury against Arsenal

Sam Wallace
Michail Antonio was forced to withdraw from the England squad - AFP

The West Ham winger Michail Antonio has a chance of recovering from injury in time to face Arsenal next week, a welcome piece of good news for his manager Slaven Bilic as he faces a crucial run of games.

Antonio, 26, pulled out of the last England squad for the Germany and Lithuania double-header with a hamstring injury sustained during the defeat to Leicester City on March 18.

Antonio was back in light training on Tuesday at the club’s Rush Green training ground and while it is felt that the Hull City game on Saturday will be too early for him, the hope is that he will be back to face Arsenal at the Emirates a week on Wednesday.

Bilic is still waiting for a full complement of first team players back from international duty, and is already without the injured Winston Reid and Pedro Obiang.

Having lost the previous three league games, the trip to Hull City on Saturday is an important game for the West Ham manager. After Arsenal on Wednesday they are at home to Swansea City the following Saturday, another major game for the bottom half teams.

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Having Antonio back in the side is critical for Bilic. The player has missed just two Premier League games all season, one of them the 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal on Dec 3. He is the team’s top goalscorer in the league with nine goals.

Diafra Sakho is back in training although not yet involved with the first team sessions. He has not played since late November having suffered successive back and thigh injuries.

Bilic’s team find themselves in 12th position with nine games to play and nine points clear of Hull in 18th position. Bilic has come under pressure in the first season in West Ham’s new home in Stratford and no new contract has been forthcoming in recent weeks with a year left on his existing deal after this summer.

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