Slaven Bilic praises Michail Antonio's impact for West Ham United

Michail Antonio has scored three goals in his first nine Premier League starts for West Ham United.

Slaven Bilic has told Sky Sports that the ‘gates have opened’ for West Ham United winger Michail Antonio.

The 25-year-old was brought to Upton Park from Nottingham Forest in the summer transfer window, but he struggled for appearances over the early part of the campaign.

Antonio did not make a Premier League start for West Ham until November, when injuries struck, but he has grasped his opportunity in the first team with both hands.

The powerful wide man has hit three goals in nine top-flight starts, and Bilic says that Antonio’s attitude should be an example to the rest of the squad.

"We signed him not only as a player for the future but also to fight for his place," the Croatian boss said.

"In the beginning, he wasn't getting those chances but the gates opened for him when we got four, five or six injuries around October and November.

"He grabbed his chance because he was training hard. It's the perfect example of what a good professional is.”

Antonio got on the scoresheet for West Ham in their 2-0 victory over Aston Villa last night.

The London-born attacker met a brilliant Mark Noble cross to head the ball beyond Mark Bunn in the Villa goal and set Bilic’s men on their way to victory.

Antonio’s next chance to impress for West Ham will come at the weekend, when the Hammers take on an in-form Southampton side.

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