Antonio’s knee injury sparks fury at West Ham
By John Percy
Sport | Football
West Ham are furious amid fears Michail Antonio suffered a serious long-term injury on international duty with Jamaica. Antonio is flying back to England for a scan as concerns grow that the forward could miss the rest of the season after damaging a medial knee ligament. The 33-year-old went off late in the first half of Jamaica’s Concacaf Nations League quarter-final against Canada on Saturday, and was seen limping down the tunnel. West Ham are understood to be “angry” as Antonio played for more than 10 minutes after sustaining the injury, while they are also unhappy with the state of the pitch at Kingston’s Independence Park. Antonio will return for tests and there are hopes he may miss only up to six weeks with the injury. The worst-case scenario is he could be absent for nine months, and West Ham will not discover the severity of the problem until after the scan. Antonio has scored two goals this season and appeared in all of the club’s league matches so far. Jarrod Bowen has also returned to the club after suffering a minor knee injury on international duty with England. Bowen is West Ham’s leading scorer and did not travel to North Macedonia with Gareth Southgate’s squad. Southgate said: “We felt better to leave him in England so that he can get it properly assessed. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything serious, but we just didn’t have enough time, and we wouldn’t take a risk with that player.” The blow to Antonio comes as a study found injuries to Europebased footballers became more severe after the winter World Cup in Qatar last year, contributing to a near 30 per cent annual jump in the cost to clubs of seeing their players sit on the sidelines. The findings come in a report by City of London insurance firm Howden Group Holdings Ltd, which said clubs in Europe’s leading five leagues suffered a €704.9million (£617million) hit from injuries last season, up from €553.6million the previous campaign. The report calculates the cost of injuries from players’ salaries and the amount of time they are injured. Teams in the Premier League took the biggest hit, accounting for over 40 per cent of the cost across the five leagues. In the two months after the World Cup, there were 49 injuries in the Premier League, more than in any other top division. “The staging of a men’s World Cup in a European winter led to players facing an extra eight days on the sidelines in the second half of the season, compared to the first,” said James Burrows, Howden’s head of sport. Injuries last month caused players to be out for 11.4 days on average, while January’s injuries led to lay-offs of 19.4 days. This comparison applied only to players named in World Cup squads.