'I'm sure' - Exclusive: Pundit confident West Ham will 'be loyal' to attacker despite 'issue'
Noel Whelan believes that West Ham attacker Michail Antonio is capable of earning a new contract at the club despite his injury record.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Laura O’Leary, the ex-Coventry City attacker revealed he was confident the Hammers would stay loyal to Antonio despite his injury-record being an issue as he has been a great servant for the club.
West Ham handed Aaron Cresswell a new contract recently and are believed to be set to look at the contracts of players who are approaching the final 18 months on their current deal, like Antonio, in the next few months.
Whelan admitted that Antonio has consistently suffered injuries in the last few seasons but suggested he still had the ability to prove himself worthy of a new contract.
When asked whether West Ham should offer Antonio a new deal given his injury record, Whelan told Football Insider: “Well I think that’s the only issue isn’t it, injuries have consistently come to the player over the last few seasons now.
“But there’s no doubt he has been a great servant to the club, he has scored some very important goals and has been an important part of their team for the last three to four years now, so yeah I’m sure the club will be loyal to a player that deserves a new contract.
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“He still has 18 months plus on his deal, and that’s a long time to prove to the club that he’s worth a new contract, it’s all about earning it, what you’ve done in the past is one thing, but it’s whether you can be part of the next generation who could take the club forward.
“I’m sure he’s on a lot of money, will he be worth it for West Ham? Only if he puts in the performances, is consistent week-in-week-out and is someone they can’t afford to let go, he has got to prove that to them.”
Antonio featured four times for the Hammers this season before suffering a hamstring injury in the eighth minute of the 2-0 win over Newport County in the EFL Cup.
The 29-year-old attacker did manage 38 appearances across all competitions in his 2018/19 season but did suffer numerous injury problems in his 2017/18 campaign that saw his playing time restricted.