Alan Hutton has admitted Michail Antonio “didn’t look up for the fight” after making his return for West Ham against Aston Villa on Monday.
The former Villa and Scotland star, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insisted the 30-year-old did not look right from the first minute and suggested that he had been put in the starting XI too soon after his hamstring injury.
Antonio lasted 45 minutes in the Hammers’ 2-1 win before he was hooked at half-time for Sebastien Haller.
The Irons’ talisman missed three games with a muscle injury and the French forward had taken his place in the starting XI.
Hutton admitted David Moyes’ decision to throw Antonio back into the line-up had backfired and that it was clear the former Nottingham Forest star was still a long way off the pace following his recent layoff.
Hutton told Football Insider: “From the word go I thought Antonio didn’t look right – fair play to David Moyes, he recognised that early on.
“Whether obviously Antonio came in and said: ‘Look, I’m still feeling this,’ but he took him off at half time.
“There was one where he pushed the ball down the line against Matty Cash and Matty Cash actually got his body in the way and Antonio just didn’t even look up for the fight at that moment in time which kind of told me that he wasn’t right.
“A hamstring is something you really need to be careful of. If you come back from it too soon, it can flare up really quickly so he’s such an important piece.
“I understand why Moyes brought him back in, he knew Villa would be a tough game for them and he wants his top players playing so I do get the decision but, ultimately, it did backfire but he was quick enough to make the change.”
In other West Ham news, the Irons were left gutted when they were beaten by Rangers to a new six-figure signing.