Stand-in centre-half George McCartney is no stranger to slotting in at the heart of the back four and is happy to do so if it helps West Ham United climb the Barclays Premier League table. 

The Northern Ireland international deputised at centre-half against Arsenal, following James Collins' departure, and played in the middle once more in Saturday's topsy-turvy 3-3 draw against West Bromwich Albion.

While he would gladly see the Club's regular centre-halves back in the fold, McCartney is hoping to hold the fort in the interim, however the situation dictates.     


George, Saturday was a real rollercoaster of a game, wasn't it?

GM: "Yes, it was. I thought we started well, we got the early goal and I was thinking it's going to be a pretty comfortable day. But it ended up being a bit of a thriller, a good game for the neutral but not so good for the two teams, with both looking for the win and trying to move up the table. After going 2-1 down, we got ourselves back into the game again and ended up getting a point, which is better than nothing."

You're not a regular centre-half, what was it like when you saw Tomkins limp off, leaving you with no recognised centre-halves? Perhaps a bit daunting?

GM: "No, I wouldn't say it was daunting. I've played centre-half before in my life, I started out a centre-half and I've played international football as a centre-half and I know what's required. Obviously it's not great when you have two or three regular centre-halves out injured, but I think nowadays players have got to fill in when needed.

"When Tonks went down, we finished the game with four full-backs in defence. It's required these days, you've got to be able play in more than one position and fill in when players are injured or when the manager needs you to do a job. So, it wasn't ideal to finish the game with game with four full-backs in the defensive slots but there was no other choice."

You seemed to cope pretty well, but Anelka's a top-class striker...

GM: "To be honest, Anelka wasn't like in his Chelsea days, when he was an out and out striker sitting up top. Now he's dropping back into midfield, trying to get on the ball a little bit more. Obviously he scored twice on Saturday. The first one went down the middle of myself and Joey, it was a good ball. For the second, he's standing on the line, it's fallen down to him and he's got the lucky break. 

"It was one of those games in the end that could have gone either way, both sides had chances. We're probably disappointed after going 1-0 up and then getting 3-2 ahead that we didn't hold onto the three points."

At 2-1 down and with the fans becoming anxious, the team showed great character to come back and get themselves in front…

GM: "It's understandable. The fans want to see the team doing well and it's not a pretty situation that we're in at the minute in the bottom three. As much as the fans want us to do well, the players on the pitch are giving their all, trying to get the three points. We're all, the manager, the coaches and players, trying to pull it together and get ourselves out of this situation. We need the fans behind us through the 90 minutes and after starting the game so well, I can understand when you go 2-1 down at half-time, that they want to see an improvement in the second half and I think we did that.

"After Van [Modibo Maiga] had scored and then Nolan gets you ahead, you think for the next five, ten minutes just keep it tight. We knew they'd want to come at us and unfortunately they went down the other end and got the equaliser. It was disappointing, but we'll take a point after being 2-1 down at half-time and we did well to get ourselves back into the game. I think we knew in this situation of being near the bottom you don't have the luck, things don't go for you. I think on Saturday we just needed that little bit of luck and we'd probably have got the three points."

Are you surprised to see West Ham in the bottom three, with the squad that you've got?

GM: "You look at the team, you look at the squad, it's experienced, it's got some great players in it. I think in the first, probably, eight to ten games of the season, there were games where we were picking up draws. It goes back to having that little bit of luck and turning that one point into three points, but we just couldn't put the ball in the net. Eventually it catches up on you, if you're not really scoring too many goals, other teams are gradually maybe going to get one or two chances and nick a goal. I think that's why we've found ourselves in this situation.

"I could go back to the Newcastle game, the Hull game, the Everton game at the Boleyn Ground, there are five or six games where we should have had the three points, we didn't, so now it's up to ourselves to all pull together.

"We've got winnable games coming up again and we need to try and get the players that are injured back again. Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Winston Reid are important players. They're all big misses, so I think once we get everyone fit again we'll have a full strength squad, we'll hopefully be moving up the table."

Is the confidence still there?

GM: "You look over the last few weeks at the teams that have sacked their managers, the players haven't been happy with whatever way they were playing, all different things. But our dressing room is great, confidence is high, the spirit is high. We're all in it together and we're still doing all the right things on the training ground.

"It's after Christmas now and when you find yourselves in the bottom three, everyone maybe gets a little bit edgy and games you feel you should be winning you're just not getting across the line. It eventually catches up on you. The dressing room's great and we're just trying to move up the table again and get ourselves out of this situation."