David Moyes admits Jarrod Bowen’s form suffered because he was in contention for a place in England’s World Cup squad.
West Ham winger Bowen won four caps last year but ultimately missed out on a spot in Qatar.
He had not scored a goal since October until his timely double secured a 2-0 win over Everton last weekend.
Hammers boss Moyes has urged the 26-year-old to stay among the goals over the rest of the season, starting with Monday’s FA Cup trip to Derby.
“Last year, in the second half of the season he took over the goalscoring here and got us big goals, in Europe and in the league,” said Moyes.
“To get named in the England squad and probably having a big hope that he would make the squad to go to the World Cup, but he’s not performed well in the first half of the season and I still think he’s got a lot more to go again.
“I think he tried to do so many things correct. He tried so everything he did was right.
“From the start of the season to November he probably didn’t perform well enough in those six to eight weeks.
“He didn’t get goals. If he’d got three or four goals he might have been the one going to the World Cup maybe more so than some others who popped in at the last minute.
“He was so disappointed with himself, gutted that he didn’t do that. I think it was hanging on him a little bit.
“So I’m hoping those goals have given him big confidence to go and show what he can do. He can score, he can create goals, he’s been a great buy for us and a really good team player.”