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David Moyes explains Michail Antonio absence from training ahead of Anderlecht game

David Moyes explains Michail Antonio absence from training ahead of Anderlecht game

West Ham United manager David Moyes has confirmed that Michail Antonio is doubtful for Thursday’s Europa Conference League clash at home against Anderlecht.

The 32-year-old came off the bench to score in stoppage time to help the Hammers secure a 3-1 Premier League victory at home against Fulham last weekend.

Antonio has since missed the last few days of training, including an open training session at their Rush Green training complex on Wednesday morning, with Moyes revealing that the forward’s absence is due to illness.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of the visit of Anderlecht, Moyes admitted that he is “unsure” whether the Jamaica international will be available for selection on Thursday.

“I think most of the players are fine,” the Scotsman told reporters. “Micky Antonio has had a wee bit of a cold or the flu maybe, which has kept him out of training for a day or two, so we’re a little bit unsure on him.

“We’ve got a couple of knocks and niggles, but hopefully we’ll be okay.”

West Ham United's Maxwel Cornet pictured on September 18, 2022© Reuters

Moyes has also provided an update on centre-back Nayef Aguerd and versatile winger Maxwel Cornet, who are recovering from respective ankle and calf injuries.

Aguerd is yet to play a competitive match for the Hammers following his £30m summer switch from Rennes, while Cornet has missed the last two games after sustaining a calf strain in the win over Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month.

“Aguerd is beginning to make his way and is doing quite a bit out on the grass,” Moyes added. “I’m hoping next week he might join bits of the football, that’s the plan if we can.

“He’s a pretty good specimen, so he’s one I might try and push on quite quickly if the ankle [is fine] and I’m getting the permission to do so.

“We need to get him a couple of Under-21s games and things like that too, so that’s part of it.

“Maxi Cornet had a small calf strain and I’m hoping he’s going to be okay – maybe in the middle of next week we can get him on the pitches with a bit of luck.”

West Ham United manager David Moyes on October 9, 2022© Reuters

Moyes has also talked up the strength in depth of his squad after he made nine changes to the side that beat Anderlecht 1-0 in Brussels last week.

“We want real competition here, which I think we have at the moment,” the Scotsman said. “We’re beginning to get an even stronger group of players who have been doing well.

“We want to qualify (for the Europa Conference League knockout stages) first and foremost. Even better than that would be to win the group because it would knock a couple of games off, but look, there is good competition and we want everybody to be involved in it.”

Moyes added: “You can have a slow start or a great start, and it can change around. We don’t feel we started as well as we could have done (this season), but we’ve got ourselves together with the new players and they’ve got themselves acquainted with us. We’re getting results now and hopefully we can keep going.

“We’ve won five out of six in our last few games. We’re beginning to go in the right direction and our new players are doing really well. We’re seeing better signs from the players who have done so well in the last two years as well.”

West Ham currently sit top of Group B after winning each of their first three games, and a victory on Thursday at the London Stadium would see them advance to the Europa Conference League knockout rounds.

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