By Matt Farr
West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking believes Michail Antonio should be deployed as a striker.
Brooking, who made 635 appearances for the Hammers and was caretaker manager twice, has hailed Antonio as the club’s best player, insisting that the England winger is their best option to lead the line.
West Ham are currently without injured duo Diafra Sakho and Simone Zaza due to injury, while manager Slaven Bilic does not want to risk rushing Andy Carroll back into action too quickly.
Carroll too has been out with a long-term injury, and has appeared as a substitute in each of West Ham’s last two Premier League games.
However, Antonio has stepped up in his absence as the club’s premier goalscorer, leading the way with seven goals from 21 appearances in all competitions.
Antonio has been used in a number of different positions this season, including at right-back, but Brooking believes now is the time for Bilic to make the most of him as a front-line goalscorer.
Brooking told the Evening Standard: “Certainly for me, Michail is the outstanding West Ham player of the season so far.
“His versatility was there for all to see at Liverpool when he began up front, then went to right-back for a while and finally, when Slaven switched to a back-three, he played as a wing-back.
“The massive bonus for West Ham, though, has been that when he has played up front, West Ham’s attack has looked more potent than at any other time, except when Diafra came in for two games.
“Against Chelsea in the League Cup, Michail played up front and gave them all sorts of problems and on Sunday no one other than him would have scored that goal because, when the deflection took the ball over the head of the defender, no one else would have been quick enough to get behind them.”
Antonio’s excellent season has already earned him a call-up to the England squad back in August – under former Hammers boss Sam Allardyce – but he did not feature in Gareth Southgate’s most recent international squad.
The Hammers face Burnley at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night, where they will be seeking the win that will put some distance between them and the relegation zone.
In other West Ham news, this West Ham senior figure has provided an honest verdict on the future of Dimitri Payet.