Antonio backs injury-hit West Ham for European spot

Date published: Thursday 11th February 2016 10:18

Michail Antonio: Winger impressed by West Ham's character

Michail Antonio believes West Ham’s squad is strong enough to withstand their recent bout on injuries and qualify for Europe.

Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate and Joey O’Brien all limped out of West Ham’s FA Cup victory over Liverpool, adding to a lengthy injury list.

James Tomkins, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho are also sidelined, while Carl Jenkinson is expected to return to parent club Arsenal after a knee injury ruled the right-back out for the remainder of the season.

However, Andy Carroll is set to give the Hammers a boost by returning against Norwich on Saturday, and former Nottingham Forest winger Antonio insists the squad have shown the character required to finish in the top six.

“We’ve definitely got the squad. We’ve got depth. We’ve already shown it this season,” he said.

“We lost six of our strikers and hung in there. Now we are starting to lose defenders. But we have shown that we’ve got the resilience.

“We’ve got to show that we’ve got the players that can step up and do the job that is needed.

“It’s like me in the game, when Joey came off I had to step up and fall back into his position at right-back so that we could keep fighting to get the victory. That’s what we want to do – keep fighting.”

The east Londoners are unbeaten at Upton Park in all competitions since August in their final season at the ground before moving to the Olympic Stadium.

When asked whether the emotion of performing in the last ever campaign at the famous stadium was added motivation for the players, Antonio replied: “We don’t believe it’s the stadium that is carrying us.

“We believe it is us doing it. We believe every day that we are going to try and make our place a fortress. And whenever we leave, when we go to the Olympic Stadium we are going to make that a fortress.

“It’s not really about the ground – even though we do love this ground – it’s about the players having the heart and the fight to keep going.”

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