George McCartney is making good progress on his way back towards the West Ham United first team, after injury dealt him a frustrating start to the season.
The left-back has appeared just twice for Sam Allardyce's team thus far, with both of those appearances coming in the Capital One Cup. He was back in the squad for Saturday's defeat by Norwich City and the former Northern Ireland international played 60 minutes of Tuesday's 9-0 friendly win over Gillingham.
McCartney is now looking to play his part in the Club's Barclays Premier League campaign for the rest of the season.
George, it might not have been a Premier League game against Gillingham but presumably you're just pleased to be back playing football?
GMc: "Yeah, it's all about fitness for me now. It's been a long time since I played a league match and I've only played a couple of cup games. I haven't played a game for four or five weeks so it's about building my fitness up. In terms of opposition I think the scoreline says it all but, like I say, it was nice to get the run-out.
"It's been a long time since I've been part of the first-team squad, apart from Saturday, so it would be nice to be back training with the lads out on the pitch. I'm looking forward to having the banter with the squad again and being a part of it."
Looking forward, with the injuries we've got in the squad you must presumably look at it and think you've got a real part to play in there?
GMc: "It's a big squad and a strong squad but I think with the defenders, with Reidy (Winston Reid) out, the manager is down to the bare bones. I think that's why I was put in the squad on Saturday as a late replacement for Reidy, who got injured in training. It was nice to be back on the bench but I want to get back to somewhere near where I know I can be and get in the team or on the bench on merit rather than through injuries. There's a long way to go but I try and stay positive and I'm confident in my own ability."
In the cup games you've featured in you've played at centre-half. Obviously we've only got James Collins and James Tomkins in that position, so do you think that's an area you can cover as well as left-back?
GMc: "Obviously I prefer playing at left-back but there were a couple of times in cup games last season and the previous year in the Championship that I played games at centre-half. If needs be and the manager has a few injuries then I can do a job there. Hopefully I can fight my way back in. It's going to be tough but we'll see what happens."
Everybody connected with the Club - the manager, the fans and the players - know that you can do a job at this level so there's no doubting your quality is there?
GMc: "No, I came back to the Club during the Championship season and had a really good season. The first half of last year was going well, we had a great start and were sitting nice in the league with plenty of points. Then I got injured around Christmas and I was out for a long time. It was a long time out, I missed quite a few months and as you get older it's the fitness side and being sharp enough and that doesn't come back as quickly as when you were a younger lad.
"I've worked hard over the last few months and I thought I would come back a lot quicker but I've had a few setbacks. I've got to continue to be positive and believe I can get back on the pitch. It hasn't been easy at times, but I'm willing to work hard over the next six or seven months of my contract to give it my best shot and hopefully I can get back to somewhere near the level I can play."
Regardless of fitness, I presume you want to be back in there to contribute when we're going through a bit of a rough patch?
GMc: "It's funny really, you look at our scores and the team the manager picks every week is, on paper, a really good team but things just haven't happened in front of goal. The lads at the back, apart from Saturday, have been keeping clean sheets. Last year we'd have probably scored a goal or two and got the three points but it just hasn't happened this year but I'm sure if we keep knocking on the door we're going to get the right results."