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.”

Latest Stories

18:25
The scene outside the Tesco the following morning. [Photograph by John Hercock]

A 58-year-old man was “tarred and feathered” while he lay intoxicated on a bench outside Tesco in Roneo Corner, Romford.

Read more
This Scorpion sub-machine gun was found with a silencer and live ammunition [Photograph from Metropolitan Police]

A sub-machine gun complete with live ammunition has been taken off the streets of London.

Read more
Three people were injured when the black cab crashed outside the Old Bailey  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Three people have been rushed to hospital after a taxi driver crashed into a pedestrian and a cyclist outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday evening.

Read more

Promotions

Imagine having your own idyllic house in the French countryside - and make it happen! [Photograph by Mike Simler]

Ever dreamed of living in a rural cottage in France with ivy round the door, chickens in your garden, and fresh croissants for breakfast from the local patisserie a short walk away in the nearby village?

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

TOP STORIES

Quizzes

Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio features in London24's Hammers history quiz. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Test your knowledge of West Ham’s history with this fun quiz from London24.

Read more
Guess the managers quiz

The managerial merry-go-round spins quickly these days so do you think you’ve got the knowledge to recognise the faces of all these football bosses?

Read more
Croatia's Daniel Prajnic, France's Paul Pogba and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo... three hair-raising World Cup stars (Picture: Archant/Getty)

The World Cup is a showcase of fantastic football... and terrible hairstyles. Try this quiz and test your knowledge of the wackiest barnets in Brazil.

Read more

West Ham Transfer News

Micah Richards.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has denied that Manchester City’s Micah Richards turned down a move to Upton Park on transfer deadline day.

Read more
West Ham's Mo Diame (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Sam Allardyce insists Mo Diame only has himself to blame for failing to hold on to his place in West Ham’s central midfield before his transfer deadline day switch to Hull City.

Read more
Ludovic Obraniak in action for Poland (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

Werder Bremen midfielder Ludovic Obraniak has claimed West Ham and Sunderland were interested in signing him during the summer.

Read more
Adrian of West Ham  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian admits he was saddened by the departure of his “best friend” Mo Diame to Hull City.

Read more
Vedad Ibisevic of Bosnia celebrates scoring at the World Cup against Argentina.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Stuttgart striker Vedad Ibisevic claims West Ham made an approach for him in the summer and admits he could move in January.

Read more