The 31-year-old has got off to a flyer to start the campaign, scoring four goals and chipping in with three assists in the club’s opening three games of the season, helping the Hammers end the first chunk of the campaign in second place before the league stopped for the international break.
Speaking on the latest edition of Football Daily’s Sunday Vibes, Critchley praised Antonio for the work he has done to start the season, but explained that if he were to miss an extended period of time for the Hammers, then things could get tricky for them:
“The only issue for West Ham, is Michail Antonio has been absolutely phenomenal so far this season, like probably the best player in the Premier League so far to date I would probably argue – at least in terms of what we expected from him.
“And the depth at striker is really, really poor. I can’t even think who their backup striker is off the top of my head. That’s my only worry, and without [Jesse] Lingard being able to play that false nine, I’m not sure whether [Nikola] Vlasic can play as a false nine if Antonio gets injured, so that’s my concern.”
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And whilst the club were able to spread the goals out a lot last year – with the likes of Tomas Soucek scoring 10, former loanee Jesse Lingard with nine and Jarrod Bowen with eight – given that West Ham United have got to spread themselves out across more competitions this season with their participation in the Europa League, those numbers might not repeat themselves as the fatigue of extra competition potentially takes a toll on the players.
So until they can fix that problem, perhaps by bringing someone in during the January transfer window, it is of paramount importance that they keep main man Antonio fit for as long as they can, otherwise it will be down to the squad to pick up the slack, and that’s not a guarantee as they venture into new territories as a team.