A welcome face was back around West Ham United's training ground this week in the shape of George McCartney.

The Northern Irish defender has been out of action since mid-December after picking up a knee ligament injury in training. McCartney underwent surgery on his meniscal and lateral ligaments and is now recovering well.

As part of his treatment to recover from the injury, McCartney went back home to his native Belfast for a short period but is now back at Chadwell Heath and is making good progress with the support of the club's medical team,

"It has been five weeks now since I got injured," confirmed the left-back. "After undergoing surgery, I had some of that time back home in Northern Ireland receiving treatment there.

"I saw the surgeon on Wednesday and he was happy with how it is going, so that was great news for me. He said he was pleased with the progress, so it is a big boost.

"Now that I am back here and everyone is happy with how I am doing. Hopefully that means I can press on a bit further with the work I am doing in the next few weeks."

McCartney - last season's Player's Player of the Year - returned to Hammers on a permanent basis, last summer after being on loan from Sunderland during the previous campaign.

He played his part in helping West Ham get promoted to the Barclays Premier League at the first time of asking last season and was a regular in Sam Allardyce's side until he suffered the knee injury last month.

The popular No3 confessed it has been hard watching rather than playing.

"I am not a good watcher, so it has been hard watching from the sidelines. You just want to be out there doing your bit for the team. But I am happy to be back around everyone and just want to push on now more to get back from the injury."

While he will not be able to contribute immediately, McCartney has backed his team-mates to turn around their recent run of indifferent results and make a closing push for the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.

"We have had up and down results of late, but the belief is there and we are capable of doing what we need to do - to be safe and then look to still push on and finish as high as we can.

"We had a great start which has seen us in good stead and now we have to look to do more of the same to finish the season in the same way."