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Bilic: Injury bug returns, as Antonio, Fonte, Collins, Byram out vs Liverpool

The Hammers just can’t get that fully healthy starting 11 together

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic acknowledged that Michail Antonio, Sam Byram and Jose Fonte would be out for Saturday’s latest crucial match for his managerial future, when the Hammers host formidable Liverpool at the London Stadium.

In his weekly pre-match press conference on Thursday, Bilic mentioned that both Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell would be available to face the Reds, following their injury issues before and during the Hammers 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace last weekend.

“Reid was injured, that’s why he didn’t play against Palace,” Bilic revealed in his press-conference. “Cresswell also, who went out in the game against Palace because of a dead leg. They are fit and they trained today and they should be okay for Liverpool.”

But Bilic also shared the unfortunate news of more absences for games during his tenure, as Antonio, Fonte and Byram would be out against Jurgen Klopp’s talented team. With Pablo Zabelta having to serve a one-match suspension and James Collins already out, it is another injury bug moment in the tenure of Bilic. He will be without his first two right backs, and his first right wing-back option in Antonio, vs a top side.

“Obviously Zabaleta is suspended and can’t play,” he said. “Then we have Collins, who has been injured for a few weeks now. Then in the game against Palace, Fonte [was injured].”

“In training, we had two injuries for players that won’t make it for Palace – [Michail] Antonio and Sam Byram. They are both muscle injuries. Sam will be out for four or five weeks. Antonio should be fit for the game against Watford after the international break.”

“It happened so quick, so fast,” Bilic added in some disbelief. “Before Palace, apart from James Collins, we had all the players fit. Then in the game we lost Fonte, then Zabaleta’s suspension. Then in training it was Antonio and Sam.”

“It is part of football but it’s strange because one week ago we talked about having a full squad. You asked me ahead of the Palace game if I had a big headache because some of the guys who played against Spurs played really good and we had a great result and the headache was about which team to put on against Palace.

“We had everybody except James Collins and then Winston Reid, who we lost the day before the game. Now we have another few, especially defenders, and it doesn’t look great now in that area of the team.