West Ham ace Antonio eyes World Cup after England U-turn

Date published: Thursday 25th February 2021 2:45 - Neil Foster

Michail.Antonio.TEAMtalk

West Ham striker Michail Antonio is reportedly targeting a place in the 2022 World Cup by switching his international allegiance from England to Jamaica.

The 30-year-old has yet to play international football. He has enjoyed an excellent season for the Hammers and wants to take his game to the next level.

Born in Wandsworth, the former Reading striker turned down the chance to represent Jamaica in 2016. He made clear his preference was to represent England and he was then called up by the Three Lions.

Sam Allardyce named the forward in his first squad in August 2016 but he did not make an appearance. Antonio was an unused substitute against Slovakia on September 4 of that year.

Allardyce’s replacement, Gareth Southgate, called him up for games against Germany and Lithuania in March 2017. However, the versatile front man had to withdraw due to injury.

Having failed to make an England appearance, he is eligible to play for another nation. According to The Telegraph, the Londoner will now accept Jamaica’s latest approach.

He should then be available for the Reggae Boyz’ CONCACAF qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica in September. His possible late entry into international football is in keeping with his club career.

Antonio plied his trade in the Championship with Reading in his formative years as a professional. He also spent time in League One, with loan spells at Cheltenham Town, Southampton, Colchester and Sheffield Wednesday.

A short stint at Nottingham Forest earned him a move to the London Stadium. It meant a first crack at the Premier League aged 25. The former Tooting & Mitcham United youth star has gone on to score 42 top-flight goals from 149 appearances.

He has ploughed a lone furrow up front for the Hammers in recent times after the departure of Sebastien Haller. But England have not come calling and so he is looking elsewhere.

Key man for Hammers

Antonio scored the opening goal as West Ham beat Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday. Although it was just his sixth goal of the campaign, his powerful presence up front is a bonus for David Moyes.

Jesse Lingard has now arrived on loan to help with the club’s goal tally and has already bagged three. The duo are next in action when West Ham travel to face Manchester City on Sunday.

That is the ultimate test against a side who have won 19 straight games in all competitions.

 

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