On September 30, Michail Antonio was named in the Jamaica squad for a trio of upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers but the striker has opted to remain in England with West Ham.
Antonio only made his international debut in September, playing in a 3-0 defeat to Panama and was expected to travel to North America once more to represent his nation.
The Reggae Boyz have three crucial World Cup qualifiers in October against the United States of America in Texas, a home match against Canada followed by a trip to Honduras, all in the space of seven days.
Had the striker agreed to travel he would have returned to England at the earliest on Thursday, October 14 after a grueling week away before the Hammers return to Premier League action on Sunday, October 17, against Everton.
Antonio has a worrying record of picking up injuries so reducing his workload by three matches is bound to please David Moyes and the fans ahead of a hectic Hammers schedule.
“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week,” Antonio said.
“Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the club in London at this time.
“I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”
Following the international break, West Ham are set to embark on a run of seven matches in 21 days across the Premier League, Carabao Cup, and Europa League.
The Hammers’ international players will then jet off to join their countries for a further two matches during November before a jam-packed end to the domestic year.
West Ham’s current schedule from mid-November until January 1, 2022, sees the Hammers face 12 matches in 42 days, a game on average every 3.5 days.
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Depending on the result against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup another match would be added in December and then potentially a two-legged semi-final on January 3 and 10, if the Hammers progress past City and a potential quarter-final opponent.
That would take the total matches between November 20 and January 15 to 17 in just 56 days, a tall ask for any squad.
Even without progress against Pep Guardiola’s team, the news of Antonio’s international withdrawal will be greeted with joy amongst the Hammer fanbase who recognise the importance of the striker to the club.
As West Ham’s only senior striker, the onus on Antonio to get the Hammers goals is huge and a two-week break before the domestic schedule resumes is ideal preparation for the 31-year-old.