Why Michail Antonio could still be set for a significant role at West Ham this season

West Ham Upton Park

The West Ham United winger's campaign should not be written off just yet.

When West Ham United signed Michail Antonio from Nottingham Forest in the summer it was hailed as a real coup from those who had seen the winger score 15 goals and provide 14 assists for the Championship side last season.

While it was a significant step up, at first glance it seemed Antonio had all the attributes to excel in the Premier League, but so far this season he has made just one appearance for West Ham, playing for 30 minutes against Manchester City back in September.

Since then he has been nothing more than an unused substitute and that has prompted the Mirror to suggest that Derby County could attempt to sign the winger in January.

A permanent move seems highly unlikely, with a loan switch surely the best the Rams can hope for, but there is another alternative that could see Antonio play a significant role in the second half of the campaign.

After all, West Ham started their season far earlier than most due to their Europa League qualifiers, and as clubs have discovered in the past, that has a tendency to take its toll at the business end of the campaign.

While the Hammers played a young side for many of those games, some of their first-team stars still featured while many are playing week in, week out at this point as they seek to maintain their outstanding start under Slaven Bilic.

But injuries, suspensions and dips in form are all set to play a part in time and a fresh Antonio could be exactly what West Ham need to ensure a bright start does not ultimately fizzle out.

The longer Antonio is seen as the forgotten man of Upton Park, the more likely Bilic could use him as a secret weapon exactly when he needs him the most.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch