Slaven Bilic on why Michail Antonio has had to wait so long for a chance at West Ham United

Michail Antonio did not make his first Premier League start for West Ham United until December.

Slaven Bilic has told West Ham United’s official site that the only reason Michail Antonio has had to wait so long for a chance at Upton Park is due to the excellence of his teammates.

The likes of Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet were all in fantastic form over the early part of the season, leaving Antonio having to play a peripheral role.

The summer signing has now started West Ham’s last four matches though, and he has impressed.

The former Nottingham Forest man has worked tirelessly in all of his appearances for the Hammers, and he opened his scoring account for his new club in their 2-1 win over Southampton yesterday.

And Bilic said: "Michail deserves it. He is one of those examples which is important for new players, for young players and for players who are changing levels like he did.

"He didn't play at the start of the season because we had some players who played really well in those positions.”

Antonio was expected to have a big part to play for West Ham this season, and his slow start disappointed many at Upton Park.

The powerful wide-man had been one of the standout performers in the Championship, but Bilic appeared to have reservations over picking him at first.

The Croatian boss is likely to have been won over by the 25-year-old now, however, as he has been excellent since being handed a chance.

Antonio has now made seven appearances for the Hammers, and he looks set to keep his place for the London outfit’s next match against Liverpool on Saturday.

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