If you had told Joey O'Brien 16 months ago that he would be playing a part in West Ham United's successful start to a new Barclays Premier League campaign, he might well have laughed.
The full-back had been released by Bolton Wanderers after a serious knee injury had restricted him to just 12 appearances over the previous three seasons. Faced with an uncertain future, the Dublin-born player was handed a trial by his former Bolton manager Sam Allardyce. After spending the week with the Hammers in Switzerland in July 2011, he signed a two-year deal with the Hammers and has hardly looked back since.
O'Brien chalked up 33 appearances last season to help West Ham to gain promotion. This term, he has forced his way back into the Republic of Ireland set-up after a four-year absence and already played six times in the Barclays Premier League.
Joey, how did you assess Saturday's goalless draw with champions Manchester City - especially in the light of the 2-1 defeat at Wigan Athletic the previous weekend?
JOB: "We were hanging on towards the end, but in the first half we had much better chances than them and even at the start of the second half we had a couple of decent chances. Kev's goal was onside as well, so that was a massive moment in the game. We've played well this season, though we were very disappointed with how we played last week at Wigan. We needed to perform on Saturday and to be fair to the boys they showed up and played well. The boss wasn't happy after the Wigan game, but neither were the lads. We just didn't perform how we have been performing going into that game. It was looking as if we were going well and went there to win, but we just didn't turn up. We put that right this week."
How did you manage to stifle a City attack that had not failed to score in a league game since Easter?
JOB: "The tactics from the manager were to sit in. We knew they would have plenty of the ball, but we played to sit in and wait for our chances to go and press and intercept passes to break on the counter attack. That worked, especially in the second half. We were getting out and Matt Jarvis was pushing on. He was a great out ball for us in the second half. The game plan worked well."
How do you think Manchester City will fare this season?
JOB: "Man City will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. They have world-class players and can bring top players off the bench as well, so they will be up there."
What has Andy Carroll brought to the team since his arrival in August?
JOB: "Andy was brilliant on Saturday and on another day he might have scored a couple. He's been great for the team since he has come in. In every game that he has played he's played well, so I'm sure he will get plenty of goals."
Saturday must have been a tough test for you on your return to the team after a month out with a hamstring injury?
JOB: "Physically I felt well. I've been out for a couple of weeks, but the injury wasn't that bad, so I had a lot of time to work with the fitness coaches and physios at the club. I've been working hard in training to get my fitness levels up and my stats up and I felt good in the game."