You’d expect that the coaching staff, too, are likely eagerly awaiting his comeback. However, Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini seems to be approaching things cautiously in regards to the 29-year-old.
Reliable Irons news source Claret & Hugh reported on Monday that, despite Antonio’s imminent return to prominence from the injury he suffered against Newport County in August, Pellegrini is still looking to secure extra attacking help.
That’s because he’s realised that he has a lack of depth behind Sebastien Haller up front. In the summer, though, he was seemingly content to proceed with Haller, Albian Ajeti and Antonio as his striking options.
Now, though, he seems to have realised that he shouldn’t expect too much too soon from Antonio once he’s back in the fray. Simply put, we don’t know how the Englishman is going to look once he’s back up to speed.
He’s had numerous niggling injury issues over the years, so will Antonio still have the same lightning speed and raw power that he once possessed? Will his aerial ability still be as deadly, or his finishing as cool?
Pellegrini is aware that he cannot know the answer to those questions yet, so he is looking for extra help just in case. In that, he is absolutely spot on.
The Chilean needs to be careful with Antonio and ease him back into action. He cannot expect him to be a hugely impactful player once again from the word go.
Bringing in fresh blood to ease the burden on the former Nottingham Forest man, then, sounds like the ideal plan.