George McCartney is gearing up for a return to first-team action, as the fit-again full back sets his sights on the Barclays Premier League visit of West Bromwich Albion.

The Northern Ireland international played 45 minutes for the Development Squad on Friday, before completing the full 90 minutes in Tuesday's 3-1 friendly win over a Queens Park Rangers XI.

McCartney, who suffered knee ligament damage in training, has not featured for Sam Allardyce's men since December 9 but made a welcome return to the matchday squad for Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Though the 31-year-old was not to join the fray, McCartney was nevertheless thrilled to be back in the mix and with minutes under his belt, is confident of being involved come the clash with the Baggies.

"It has been a long time out and the last time I played 90 minutes was December," he told West Ham TV. "I had a run out on Friday night for the Development Squad and it was good to play the full game on Tuesday and get a positive result.


"The knee's feeling good, I think I probably need a bit more fitness and a bit more sharpness but that will come with the next few days' training and hopefully some more game time.

"I've only been back training for about ten days to two weeks. The next game's not until the end of March so that gives me a bit of time to do some more training, more fitness work and I'll be raring to go come the West Brom game.

"To be honest I was bit surprised to be on the bench against Chelsea on Sunday, it was nice to get away with the squad again and hopefully come the West Brom game I can maybe be pushing to get back in the team, if not try to play some minutes as a substitute. But it's nice to be part of the team again and over the injury that I had."

As for Tuesday's outing at the Boleyn Ground, McCartney lauded the impact of Blair Turgott, whose hat-trick paved the way for a morale-boosting 3-1 success over an experienced QPR side. Meanwhile, in assessment of his own contribution, the full-back was content with a job well done, despite latterly feeling the effects of a three-month hiatus.

"QPR had quite a strong team out, so it was always going to be a tough game," he added. "But Blair came up with a very good hat-trick and I think you'd be hard pushed to find three better goals.

"I was feeling quite fit in the first half and the start of the second half, as the game went on I fatigued a bit, but it was nice to be back out there and getting some game time.

"It was a good day, considering how strong QPR's team was. I know we had three or four first-teamers out there as well, but there were a few young lads who did themselves justice and overall it was a good team performance."

West Bromwich Albion