By Jonty Banks

15th May, 2023 | 2:10pm

West Ham United hopeful Michail Antonio is fit for Europa Conference League showdown v AZ Alkmaar

West Ham United are hopeful Michail Antonio should be fit enough to play in the Europa Conference League semi-final clash against AZ Alkmaar this Thursday (18 May), according to the Evening Standard.

The 33-year-old was absent from the Hammers’ match-day squad for the clash against Brentford on Sunday (14 May) due to a calf problem.

However, the Evening Standard have reported that his absence was “precautionary”, with all eyes clearly on the upcoming European encounter.

The Jamaican is West Ham’s top scorer in the Conference League this term with six goals from seven appearances.

David Moyes’ side take a 2-1 lead into the second leg against AZ Alkmaar at the AFAS Stadium.

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Antonio has been a man possessed in recent months and has seemingly been sparked into life by the arrival of Danny Ings in January.

With Moyes usually preferring to play a single striker, Antonio’s strength and powerful dribbling ability in possession of the ball has been brought to the fore.

In recent games against Arsenal and Manchester United, the striker has used his physicality to bully opposition defences and allow his side to get up the field while he holds onto the ball.

Although West Ham United hold a one-goal advantage over their European opposition, this tie is by no means over and done with.

However, considering Moyes was able to rest the likes of Declan Rice, Kurt Zouma and Jarrod Bowen for the weekend’s clash against Brentford, he will fancy his side’s chances of going one step further than last year and reaching an elusive European final.

Hopefully, Antonio can join this trio in the starting lineup and brush off his calf issue.