When the U.S. men’s national team faces Jamaica on Thursday in World Cup qualifying, it will be facing an attack that is set to be without its most dangerous attacking threat.
West Ham striker Michail Antonio will miss Jamaica’s October World Cup qualifiers, including Thursday’s match against the USMNT, citing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The English Premier League player of the month for August, Antonio will remain in England, leaving Theodore Whitmore without one of the his top offensive options.
“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week,” Antonio said in a statement issued Tuesday by the Jamaica Football Federation.
“Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the club in London at this time,” he said. “I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”
The 31-year-old switched his national team allegiance to Jamaica from England earlier this year and made his competitive debut in the Reggae Boyz’s 3-0 World Cup Qualifying loss to Panama. Antonio recently became West Ham United’s all-time goalscorer in the Premier League and has six goals in seven combined appearances this season.
Antonio’s absence not only leaves Jamaica without one of the it’s top offensive options, but is the latest on a lengthy list of absentees. Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey and Philadelphia Union forward Cory Burke are out through respective injuries while midfielder Daniel Johnson and defender Liam Moore are also unavailable.
Jamaica is last in the World Cup Qualifying standings with only one point earned through three matches. The Reggae Boyz face off with the USMNT on Thursday in Austin, Texas before hosting Canada on October 10 and traveling to Honduras on October 13.