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West Ham defender: It was never a red-card challenge on Fulham striker

George McCartney v Fulham George McCartney v Fulham

Monday, December 2, 2013
3:40 PM

Hammers defender George McCartney made his first league start in over a year on Saturday, but it could have been a disaster rather than a triumph

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It has been a long road back for West Ham full back George McCartney, but finally, after all this time, the injury-hit defender could look back on a trouble-free game against Fulham with a sense of pride – it was certainly long overdue.

“I’ve had a couple of league cup games this season, but I think it has been near a year since my last Premier League start,” reflected the Northern Ireland international following the 3-0 beating of the Cottagers in Saturday’s District Line derby.

Actually it was just over a year since McCartney started a Premier League game when he played at White Hart Lane in a 3-1 defeat on November 25. This game was much sweeter.

“It was great to be back out there again and last for the whole match and feel pretty good again,” he said.

“It has been a long route back, firstly from the knee injury and I have had a few niggles here and there too.”

McCartney had been forced to watch from the sidelines as first Joey O’Brien showed his worth at left back and then experienced Romanian international Razvan Rat arrived at the club to take his position and at times he admits it has been hard to take.

“It’s never nice when you are out for near on a year,” said the 32-year-old. “It is tough at times, but you have got to translate the positive things. I have been down at times and I tried to pick myself up.

“You get the reward when you are able to go out on the pitch and last the full game and get the right result as well.”

He certainly did that, though there were a couple of things that almost spoiled his day.

Firstly a spot of cramp: “I think I got cramp at about 60 minutes, but it went away again and I just cramped up again towards the end,” smiled the likeable Irishman.

The other incident was slightly more serious as a ball was played through to Darren Bent and McCartney sent him tumbling when he could have been the last man and in a goalscoring opportunity.

“I looked at the replay and I do think he has probably made the most of it,” summed up McCartney after the referee deemed it worthy of only a yellow card, something the defender inevitably agreed with.

“I think I have clipped the back of his heel, but there is no intention,” he said. “I didn’t really fear the worst. I think the ball was running away from him anyway and it wasn’t really a goalscoring opportunity. Maybe, luckily enough, I got away with it.”

A decision the other way could have turned the match the other way, but McCartney felt that they deserved a little bit of luck and that in the end they were well worth the victory.

“You can look over the previous few games where we have created quite a lot of chances, but have not been getting the luck in front of goal,” he said.

“Against Fulham, the first one with the deflection goes in the net which seems to give everyone a little bit of confidence. The supporters got behind us and I think from then on, there was only one team in it.”

Many had described Saturday’s game as a six-pointer, but McCartney felt though it was an important game, it is far too premature to think on those lines.

“I actually think the manager called the Norwich game a six-pointer as well,” he said. “It is a bit early on in the season to be saying that, bit it was certainly a massive game. Both teams had to win and I think, especially in the second half, we had a lot of chances and thankfully got the goals we deserved.”

It was also a massive game for McCartney and he came through it with flying colours – but only just!.

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