Joey O'Brien has expressed his delight after receiving his first Republic of Ireland call-up in four years.

The versatile West Ham United defender or midfielder has battled back from a series of serious knee injuries to earn his place in Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for a friendly international with Serbia in Belgrade on 15 August.

For O'Brien, who made his Ireland debut against Sweden in March 2006, earned the last of his three senior caps in a UEFA European Championship qualifier against Cyprus in October 2007.

Unfortunately, a combination of injuries and frustration at a lack of playing time then saw O'Brien's opportunities limited, but he is now back in favour and hoping to start against Serbia and in next month's UEFA European Championship qualifier in Kazakhstan.

After such a long period in the international wilderness, the 26-year-old was naturally chuffed to bits with the news that he will be joining up with the Boys in Green again.

"It's been a long time and I've had a few sleepless nights. Comments I made in the past were taken out of context and weren't what I wanted to say because I love playing for my country. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do it."

O'Brien burst into the Bolton Wanderers first team as a teenager, earning six Republic of Ireland Under-21 caps before making his senior debut in Steve Staunton's first game in charge - a 3-0 win over Sweden.

The following year, 2007, the Dublin-born player helped Ireland hold Germany to a goalless draw in a UEFA European Championship qualifier in his home city.

Joey O'Brien

Now he has secured his international return, O'Brien is also targeting a return to Premier League action. His most-recent top-flight appearance came in a goalless home draw for Bolton against Blackburn Rovers on 18 October 2008.

"Personally, when I got released by Bolton I was released by a Premier League club, then I got the chance to go to massive club like West Ham. The dream then was to get back to playing Premier League football.

"Through all my injury worries, it was all about getting back to playing in the Premier League so hopefully I'll get that chance."

O'Brien's versatility - he played at centre-back during the recent tour to Germany and left-back in Saturday's fixture at Ipswich Town - could be key to him gaining opportunities to play regularly this term.

"Obviously it gives me a chance to get minutes on the pitch. I can play in midfield or at centre-half too, so that could give me opportunities. Players are going to pick up injuries and whatever, so as long as the manager gives me the call, hopefully I'll be able to do the job."

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