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Moyes on Antonio, Fornals & Europa League

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West Ham manager David Moyes concedes West Ham need to manage Michail Antonio’s workload as the club prepare to play seven games in just 23 days.

The Hammers travel to Southampton this weekend for their fourth Premier League game of the season, before they begin their Europa League adventure with a trip to Zagreb on Thursday to face Dinamo.

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It’s then back to England for a Premier League/Carabao Cup double-header against Manchester United, before further games against Leeds, Rapid Wien and Brentford before the next international break.

That strenuous run of games will test the fitness of Moyes’ best players, including in-form Antonio – who was named Premier League Player of the Month for August after scoring four goals and contributing three assists in the Hammers’ opening three games.

Moyes has previously admitted that he wanted to sign a backup to Antonio, but says he wasn’t able to find the right player for the right kind of money.

That has led many West Ham fans wondering what the club will do if Antonio – now a full international with Jamaica – picks up an injury, and the Scot was asked whether or not Nikola Vlasic, an exciting attacking midfielder signed on deadline day, could fill in during his latest pre-match press conference.

Here’s how he replied to that and a number of other topics…

Jarrod Bowen

Jarrod Bowen is an option up front / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

“You’re right with that, we won’t start Mich in every match, we’ll pick and choose. We have seen Yarmolenko playing as a No.9, Jarrod Bowen can play as a No.9 so I feel as if I’ve got one or two other options which I can look to do.

“I think, Nikola might be, I’m not sure as a No.9 but I don’t think there is a problem if I have to use him there as well. Possibly the other boys [Yarmolenko and Bowen] are ahead of him before he will play in that role.

“Well the thing I learned from my period in Spain, being a manager out there, I think Spanish players coming into the Premier League might take a year to adapt. Of course, you may be able to name me really good Spanish players who have come in and adapted immediately. I just feel as if the football is a different type, and I think it’d be very much the same for a British player going out there.

“It takes time to adapt to the culture and style of playing. I think Pablo was probably a slightly different type of Spanish player, he’s an incredibly hard working player for the team, happy to play in any position. So for me, he’s great to have around, he’s really really good to have around.  I think he’s had an influence in the team, we can play him in two or three positions so he has been under the radar.

“I’m really pleased he got a call up because he was on standby during the summer for the Spanish squad when there was was the Covid outbreak in the Spanish squad. Behind the scenes he had been called up for the Olympic squad but we chose not to let him go to the Olympics with Spain. He’s been in and around what they see as the Spanish good players.

“I hope that he will get called up for the next one, and that might come with Pablo’s form and if he keeps scoring as well.

“It’s been really really difficult but I think it has been difficult for everybody for the last 18 or 20 months. Maybe the new way is to be able to watch loads and loads of games on the videos, to watch the players, and then you’re trying to get as much understanding of the players from people you know as you possibly can. 

“So just trying to do as much homework on them. But obviously we spent an awful lot of time in the recruitment office, because we could not go to the games we see players live, but it’s been the same for everybody in the world.

“Who knows this might be the way forward now, I am not saying this will be the death of scouts on the road but  it could be that we find more and more people are using the analysts and the scouts watching from home on TV. I still think, me personally, I still think watching games live and seeing people play [is the way to go].”

David Moyes takes on Ralph Hasenhuttl on Saturday

David Moyes takes on Ralph Hasenhuttl on Saturday / Ian MacNicol & Ian Kington/AFP via Getty Images

“We just prepare to face Southampton [as they are, having won six our of the last seven meetings], we had a very poor record against Newcastle and we ended up beating them on the opening day of the season. You just prepare for the game and go about it, we know Southampton have got good players that can cause us problems and we need to manage that.

“But we’ve got good players who can try and cause Southampton problems as well. It’s a tough game away from home in the Premier League with the crowds back and it makes the games much harder.”

View of the Europa League trophy during the UEFA Europa...

West Ham in this season’s Europa League / SOPA Images/Getty Images

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be our toughest game but it’s certainly a really tough game going to Zagreb. They’ve got a pretty good European history over many years and have been a big club so I don’t think it’s going to be easy.

“We have got some players with international experience, players who have played in different countries and because of that I think it will give us a chance. Ultimately, it’s a new experience for us at West Ham, not completely but in recent times, and hopefully we’re able to deal with it”.

For more from Toby Cudworth, follow him on Twitter!

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