Darren Bent has “first-hand” experience of what West Ham star Michail Antonio will be feeling on his return from a month-long hamstring injury.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Premier League goalscorer spoke of the apprehension players can experience after a lengthy layoff.
So far, however, West Ham fans will be pleased to see that Antonio appears unburdened by any niggling doubts about his fitness.
He has now scored in two of three starts since returning from injury at the end of December, with match-winning goals against Burnley and West Brom.
That’s just as well, says Bent, because the 30-year-old striker is not a player who can afford to play with any hesitancy.
He told Football Insider: “For someone who plays the way he does, he can’t be cautious because he’s explosive, he’s strong, he’s powerful.
“I can tell you first-hand, when you’ve had injuries it can play on your mind and be problematic. It can cause you to be a little bit cautious.
“It’s difficult in terms of fitness because you’re wondering where your body is at.
“When you’ve had various injuries like him, you’re thinking: ‘Am I ready to go full-pelt? When am I gonna start feeling like my normal self?’
“So it can be a little bit disheartening at times. But listen, a goal will cure anything. When you get a goal, you forget about the injuries. All you think is, right I’m gonna get another one, and another one, and another one.”
Antonio has been a West Ham player since 2015, signing from Nottingham Forest in a £7million deal.
Since then, he has turned out 166 times for the Hammers, scoring 43 goals.