Joey O'Brien has revealed his delight after playing for the Republic of Ireland for the first time in over four years.

Speaking ahead of West Ham United's Barclays Premier League opener with Aston Villa on Saturday - Tickets will be available on the day at the Boleyn Ground - O'Brien expressed his pride at pulling on the green shirt once again.

The Hammers star appeared as a 79th-minute substitute in Wednesday's goalless international friendly draw in Serbia and is now targeting a place in Giovanni Trapattoni's squad on a regular basis as Ireland begin their quest to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

"It was brilliant. It's obviously it was a long time since the last time I had played at an international level so it was great to meet up with the lads again," he confirmed.

The 26-year-old also admitted he didn't think he would play a part in Belgrade, and he now hopes he can kick on and earn another call-up.

"I didn't expect to come on, I was delighted to get on the pitch and I think we played really well and got a good result.

"We had certain players who don't usually start and they came in and did very well, I thought we were unlucky not to get the win.

"Hopefully I can keep playing well at West Ham United and play a part in the World Cup qualifiers."

Ireland travel to Kazakhstan for their opening World Cup qualifier in September before welcoming Oman to Fulham's Craven Cottage for a friendly four days later.

O'Brien has endured a torrid few years after being blighted with a knee injury, but he revealed that his religious faith played and will continue to play a big role in his positive outlook on life.

"Yeah definitely, over the past few years I have endured a difficult time and had a big operation on my knee. Everybody has their highs and lows and luckily for me I had my family, my faith and great players around me who hoped everything was going to work out. Luckily it did.

"I was brought up around religion, my ma and da used to take me to mass when I was a kid and when I went to the academy they also made sure I would go to say my prayers and ask god to look after me and my family.

"It is just something we have in Ireland, it's a central part of my life, I like to live a good life, keep the Catholic faith near to it."

O'Brien is in the squad for Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Villa - a fixture that could see him come up against recently-retired Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given.

While Given will be missed, the No17 thinks the Boys in Green have the strength in depth to move on from his departure - perhaps in the shape of West Ham's own Irish stopper Stephen Henderson.

"Shay has just retired from international football. He has done everything and played in a lot of games. Without him between the posts we may not have qualified for the tournaments we have.

"It's going to be hard without him, but the lads we have are more than capable and going forward we have got players who can score a lot of goals."

Concentrating on Saturday's kick-off, O'Brien believes both teams itching to get started at the Boleyn Ground.

"We're new coming into the league, but looking at their squad they will pretty much be a new team as well.

"It will hopefully be two good teams having a good go at it on the first day of the season, hopefully we can do the business, all the lads are raring to go and we have had a good pre-season.

"Everything has been building up to the first game of the season, and we want to get off to a good start."

Season Ticket General Sale