West Ham United right back Sam Byram has nothing but praise for match winner Michail Antonio after the Hammers 1-0 win against Sunderland on Saturday.
The only goal of the game came from the man of the match midfielder just before the half an hour mark with a neat left foot finish from the edge of the box, meaning Antonio has now scored four goals in five games at Upton Park.
Byram, a January signing from Championship side Leeds United, says the former Nottingham Forest player is going from strength to strength in the Premier League.
The 22-year-old said: “I played against him a few times while we were in the Championship and he’s a handful. He’s a strong powerful boy and he’s getting better and better every time I see him play. He’s adding goals to his game now and he’s now a crucial part of the team and to see him doing it at the top level means I am really happy for him.”
Despite being a star performer for the Elland Road outfit for the previous three seasons, Essex boy Byram says he’s settling into life in east London although coping with the pressures of the Premier League is much tougher.
Byram said: “I’m really happy here and really enjoying it. Everything is a bonus. I’ve had opportunities to play some games now and the training is good. I’m surrounded by good players which can only make me better.
“The Premier League is a lot quicker and the pace of the game is a lot sharper and the touches and quality on the ball is higher than I’m used to. However, I’m adapting well and I am learning every day.”
This latest win means the Irons are now unbeaten at the Boleyn Ground since August. While dismissing talk of a Champions League place, the prospect of European football at the Olympic Stadium is tantalising.
Byram said: “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we don’t take for granted of where we are in the league. We know it’s down to hard work and team spirit and we’ll keep doing that.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want European football next season and it’s high on our agenda and everyone’s pulling together to get as high as we can in the league.”
Read more Match report: West Ham 1, Sunderland 0
With former loan right Carl Jenkinson now back at his parent club Arsenal for his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury, Byram has been catapaulted into a leading role. But his booking on Saturday means he misses out on the next two domestic games against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (March 2) and Everton (March 5), as well as the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United (March 13) because he is cup tied.
“To miss out on a chance to play against Tottenham who are also doing very well and test myself is disappointing,” said Byram. “It’ll be a good atmosphere. I’ll be here watching but it’ll be frustrating for me."
Follow The Wharf on Twitter @the_wharf .
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook .