West Ham midfielder back where he belongs after 18 months

17:05 21 November 2012

West Ham United

West Ham United's Gary O'Neil (front) in action

EMPICS Sport

Hammers Gary O’Neil celebrated his first Premier League start of the season on Monday by providing the cross for West Ham’s equalising goal against Stoke City

Hammers midfielder Gary O’Neil celebrated his first start in the Premier League in 18 months by setting up the equalising goal in the Monday night 1-1 draw with Stoke City at Upton Park, writes Dave Evans.

The 29-year-old suffered a career-threatening ankle injury in April 2011 and with nine months on the treatment table, followed by helping the Hammers to promotion from the Championship, he is finally back to where he was.

“It has taken me 18 months to get back to starting a Premier League game since my injury,” said the midfielder. “That was my first start on Monday, but you do need games.

“I found it a little bit tough with the 90 minutes, compared to coming on for half an hour when the adrenaline helps you through it.

“It has been a long time since I played 90 minutes too – it was probably the play-off semi-final, so a long time.”

O’Neil has had to wait for that chance, but he is philosophical about the limited opportunities he has had this season and would not think of pestering the manager about a regular starting spot.

“You have to be patient, especially nowadays because there are a lot of good players around, a lot of big squads,” explained the former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough man.

“It is not like it used to be when everyone starts and you have only got 13 players – it is not easy to get a start.

“But I haven’t caused a fuss, I just get on with it, with the gaffer and I get on well with all the staff here.

“I am really enjoying it and I was just pleased to get a start, albeit because there were a lot of injuries. I wouldn’t say I was an out-and-out right winger, but I played there against Stoke City.”

He did and he proved himself a useful one just after half time when his low cross was turned in by Joey O’Brien.

It was a tactic that manager Sam Allardyce had suggested.

“The gaffer said if we do get a chance to cross it, try and slide it in behind them rather than hanging it up,” said O’Neil.

“We hadn’t got down there too often, so first chance I had I managed to get in underneath and surprisingly saw Joey O’Brien on the end of it – I was really pleased for him.

“In the end it is a decent point when you go 1-0 down to them, especially when they make it as difficult as they do and it keeps our little unbeaten run going.”


Live Blog Transfer Window Live July 28

 

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest West Ham news

Saturday, August 1, 2015
Clinton N'Jie of Lyon (Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images)

All the latest news and transfer rumours from our London clubs as we enter the final month of the window.

Saturday, August 1, 2015
Alvaro Negredo of Valencia   (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Valencia striker Alvaro Negredo has admitted he hopes to stay in Spain this summer but knows ‘anything can happen in football.’

Friday, July 31, 2015
West Ham options

West Ham have been struggling for goals in pre-season, with the number of games taking its toll on their squad.

Friday, July 31, 2015
West Ham United's Coach Slaven Bilic during the Europa League Second Qualifying Round, First Leg, at Upton Park, London.

West Ham had their recent poor disciplinary record laid bare again on Thursday as both defender James Collins and manager Slaven Bilic were sent off in a 2-2 draw with Astra Giurgiu.

Friday, July 31, 2015
Pedro Rodriguez of FC Barcelona (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

It has been a busy week in the capital and the season is creeping up on us. Here is our handy round-up of Friday’s best transfer stories.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Read more
Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more
Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Read more