West Ham winger Michail Antonio grabs rare chance to impress against Stoke
Michail Antonio shook off his 'missing man' tag as he finally got a chance to impress for West Ham on Saturday.
The winger had made just a handful of substitute appearances for the Hammers since his £7million summer switch from Nottingham Forest.
Even co-chairman David Gold appeared to have forgotten about Antonio, mistakenly retweeting a picture of him after an internet prankster appealed for information on a 'missing friend'.
But amidst an injury crisis at Upton Park, Antonio was handed his first start against Stoke and grabbed his opportunity with an all-action display in the goalless draw.
"Michail did really well," said manager Slaven Bilic. "He worked hard and has been waiting for his chance. Now he has got it and he used it really well.
"Sometimes it is hard for a player to come in and take their chance when they get it. But he did exactly that and I am really pleased for him."
Antonio went close to claiming all three points for West Ham but his second-half volley was beaten away by City keeper Jack Butland.
With Victor Moses ruled out for around six weeks with the hamstring injury he suffered against Manchester United, Antonio is likely to feature heavily over the Christmas period.
"It felt unbelievable to get a chance," he told the club website. "This was my boyhood dream to play in the Premier League and I've managed that.
"Playing at Old Trafford last week set me up well for this game. It showed me the levels of the league and it was a good 50 minutes.
He added: "They have been 0-0 draws, but they haven't been 0-0 games. Against Man United we had quite a few opportunities, and in this game I had quite a few opportunities.
"We hit the post with Mauro Zarate as well, so we definitely have the attacking threat, it's just putting it in the back of the net."
Zarate rattled the post with 10 minutes remaining, shortly after Stoke's Marko Arnautovic was denied by the woodwork with a deflected free-kick.
City were without injured playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri but boss Mark Hughes hopes he will be fit to face Crystal Palace next weekend.
"He's had a little bit of discomfort in his hamstring for a couple of weeks now, and a scan showed a bit of damage at the bottom of his hamstring," said Hughes.
"So we erred on the side of safety, we have a busy period coming up and we felt if he misses one game then hopefully he he will be okay for next week."