Gary O'Neil says West Ham United need to get over the 'massive blow' of Monday's 3-2 Barclays Premier League defeat by Tottenham Hotspur when they travel to Stoke City.
The Hammers go to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday having been edged out by a last-minute goal from Spurs' Gareth Bale and seeking to end a run of six consecutive away league defeats.
While the odds may be against West Ham winning in the Potteries, midfielder O'Neil believes Monday's performance should give the players and supporters belief that better is just around the corner.
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"We've got some big, strong, physical players who can hopefully deal with Stoke's physical threat, then hopefully we'll have the chance to get it down and play," the 29-year-old told West Ham TV. "We got the chance to play a little bit on Monday night and show people what we can do, getting it down the sides to Matt Jarvis and Joe Cole with people driving in. Hopefully we can work on some more of that.
"We hope to stop getting so many little injuries as well. We had to take people off, which wasn't ideal. It spoils your rhythm when you lose your captain after half-an-hour and then we lost our right-back Guy Demel. It makes it tough, so hopefully we can stop that as well.
"We need a reaction because our away form hasn't been good enough. I thought we played a bit better at Aston Villa, but came away with nothing which is no good. Saturday is a big game and we need something from it."
For O'Neil, seeing his name in the starting line-up at Stoke will be incentive enough to produce his best.
"It's been a long time since I started a Premier League game in the middle of the park," said the No32, who started his first league game since the 1-0 defeat at Reading on 29 December. On Monday I played in a slightly new role a bit deeper with Mark Noble missing through injury, and I enjoyed it. I thought we did well as a team and looked fairly comfortable. It was just a massive blow at the end that made me forget about all the rest of it, really.
"It was tough to take so late in the game but it was such a good goal by Bale, and especially as we'd had some good chances at 2-1 to make it three. I thought the lads worked hard against a good side with one outstanding player, as well. We were a little bit unlucky but we've got to dust ourselves down and we've got another big game on Saturday.
"I don't think Spurs looked too dangerous until Bale got the ball. They kept it comfortably and we knew they'd try to keep the ball as they like to pass it, then as soon as he got hold of it there seemed to be an extra edge to their play. He scored a great first goal and, with the second one, I still can't believe he's managed to do what he did from where he was. It was a real sickener."
For O'Neil, Bale's late winner was particularly tough to take as he had tracked the Welshman half the length of the pitch before the Spurs No11 unleashed an unstoppable long-range shot into the top corner. In assessing the situation again, midfielder summed up the difficulty of dealing with a player with pace, power and the ability to score goals from anywhere.
"It was a tough one for me. It was about 35 yards out, I was on a yellow card and I had to decide whether to try and go tight and risk him going by me. Maybe I gave him a yard too much space but I didn't expect him to do what he did.
"I've had a look at it again to see if there is anything I could have done and the ball misses my foot by about a millimetre. Maybe I could have got a bit tighter but we'll discuss it over the next few days and see what we could have done better about all three goals."