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Striker light? What about Hammers injured centre halves?

Makeshift centre half George McCartney gets the better of Nicolas Anelka during Saturdays 3-3 draw at Upton Park Makeshift centre half George McCartney gets the better of Nicolas Anelka during Saturdays 3-3 draw at Upton Park

Monday, December 30, 2013
12:00 PM

Striker talk overshadows the defensive problems

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With all the worry and talk about the striker crisis at Upton Park, the problems that West Ham have in central defence have been somewhat overshadowed.

But for a team that have kept eight Premier League clean sheets this season – as much as anyone – the troubles they now face are even more acute than those up front.

Winston Reid was the first to go, an ankle injury in training has seen him out since November 2 and he was spotted limping in the corridors of Upton Park on Saturday.

James Collins followed on Boxing Day with a calf strain and then James Tomkins limped off holding his troublesome groin on Saturday to leave the Hammers without a recognised centre back.

Step forward George McCartney and Joey O’Brien and despite the three goals they conceded, the former felt that they coped well with the situation.

“I wouldn’t say it was daunting,” said McCartney.

“I have played at centre half, I started out at centre half and I have played international football at centre half, so I know what is required.

“Obviously it is not great when you have lost two or three of your regular centre halves through injury, but nowadays you have to throw yourself into things for the good of the team.

“It wasn’t ideal to finish the game with four full backs, but we didn’t have any choice.”

True enough and at one point with West Ham trailing 2-1 the fans were beginning to get on the backs of the players, something McCartney thought was inevitable.

“It was understandable,” he said. “The fans want to see us do well and it is not a pretty situation that we are in at the minute in the bottom three.

“But the players are giving their all to get out of this situation and we need the fans behind us.”

They certainly do as West Ham face an uncertain future this season, but is the defender surprised at the predicament the team find themselves in?

“When you look at the team and the squad it is experienced, it has got some great players in it,” said McCartney.

“But the first eight to 10 games of the season, there were games where we were picking up one point where a bit of luck would have turned them into three. Eventually that catches up with you.”

All of the teams around West Ham at the bottom have changed their manager, but the defender believes that West Ham do not have the same problems as some of those other teams.

“You look at the teams that have sacked their manager, the players haven’t been happy with him or the way they are playing, but our dressing room is great, confidence and team spirit is still high and we are still doing all the right things on the training ground,” insisted McCartney.

“It is just that when you get to Christmas and you find yourself in the bottom three, everyone gets a bit edgy. Games you think you should be winning, you are just not getting over the line.

“Once we get all the injured players back again, because they are big misses, we will be moving up the table again.”

Let’s hope he is right.

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