West Ham United midfielder Michail Antonio has been ruled out of the crunch home game against Liverpool on Saturday evening, according to a report by the London Evening Standard.
The 27-year-old has suffered a rib injury. It is a huge blow for the Hammers and their beleaguered boss Slaven Bilic. The England internationalâ€™s pace and eye for goal will be sorely missed against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Antonio has endured a difficult season up to now. He had an operation in the summer to cure a torn hamstring and this latest knock is a remnant of a similar rib injury he sustained in last monthâ€™s 3-0 West Ham defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion.
The free-scoring midfield man who has netted 18 goals in 64 appearances for the Londoners was the target of major criticism from all quarters last Saturday. It was his awful error that led to Crystal Palaceâ€™s injury-time equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park.
It provoked a stinging rebuke from West Ham boss Bilic, who said the mistake was one that â€œshould not happen at this level.â€
It drew an even harsher response from BBC pundit Garth Crooks.
“Antonio should spend the next four weeks training with academy scholars if heâ€™s going to make schoolboy errors like that,” he lamented.
It cost West Ham their first away victory of the season and two crucial points dropped in their battle to get away from the relegation zone.
Bilic is still under enormous pressure at the London Stadium and victory over the Merseysiders going into the international break would be a welcome boost.
In other Hammers team news, right-back Pablo Zabaleta is suspended while left-back Aaron Cresswell, centre-backs Jose Fonte and Winston Reid are all doubts for the game.
Veteran defender James Collins is still a few weeks away from full fitness and there may be a call-up for in-form 20-year-old striker Toni Martinez. The Â£2.4 million signing from Valencia in 2016 scored twice on Monday night as the West Ham Under-21 side beat Bristol Rovers 3-1.