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2013-12-02T15:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:25:06

George grateful to be back

When George McCartney's name was read out over the Boleyn Ground PA system on Saturday, the left-back could have been forgiven for giving himself a cheer.

The West Ham United left-back made his first Barclays Premier League start in more than a year, helping the Hammers to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Fulham.

After a year blighted by a recurring knee injury and a series of other niggles, the No3 told of his relief and happiness at returning to top-flight duty.

Read Mohamed Diame's reaction to Saturday's victory over Fulham

"It was a great feeling to see my name on the teamsheet again," said McCartney. "It's been a long time and I've had some tough days with injury, but thankfully I'm over it now and it was nice to get back out on the pitch.

"To win the game was the most important thing, but to last the 90 minutes was a boost as well. It was good to be back out there.

"It was a good team performance. Probably the first 15 or 20 minutes, we had a couple of half-chances and Fulham tried to hit us on the break, but Jussi Jaaskelainen didn't have a save to make all day.

"It was a great performance all-round. In the second half, we upped it a bit more and had lots of chances and put them away, when in the past few games we didn't get the results we deserved. It was nice to get the three points."

McCartney's injury issues began when he hurt his knee in training in December 2012. Then, on his return to first-team duty against West Bromwich Albion on 30 March this year, he broke down again.

Two Capital One Cup appearances and four for the Development Squad this term have helped the 32-year-old regain his fitness and he certainly did not look out of place against the Cottagers.

"To be honest, being out for such a long time, you do have thoughts about whether you're ever going to come back," he admitted. "As you get older, you wonder if your body is up to coping with the demands of Premier League football again.

"I worked hard to get my sharpness and match-fitness back and I've always had belief in my own ability.

"It was a long road back and I had one or two comebacks when little niggles set me back again, but I've now had two or three really good weeks of training, a couple of friendly matches and to play the full 90 minutes on Saturday was great."

Having made his first Barclays Premier League start since the 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 25 November 2012, the Northern Irishman is targeting his second London derby in four days.

The Hammers travel to Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening and he fully intends to be involved in that one, as well as the next home game against his former club Sunderland on 14 December.

"I'm really happy to be back playing Premier League games again. I'm hopefully going to be available for selection for the remainder of the season. I don't want to be picking up any more niggles or injuries - I've had enough of that over the past year!

"Hopefully I can stay fit now and get a good run of games and try to stay in the team. We've got a good squad now and there's a lot of competition for places, so you need to perform in every game.

"Hopefully I can stay in the team now and play as many games as possible. Since I left Sunderland I've not had the opportunity to play against them, so I'd love to play against them and hopefully we can turn them over and everything will go well."

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