After spending years battling a career-threatening knee injury, Joey O'Brien is not going to allow a relegation battle to get him down.

West Ham United's No17 battled back to the top of the game after winning a contract with the Hammers in the summer of 2011, having not played a single senior game between October 2008 and March 2011.

Since his arrival at the Boleyn Ground, O'Brien has performed well in a host of positions, most recently filling in as a centre-back in the absence of Winston Reid, James Collins and James Tomkins.

Having been so close to hanging up his boots, the Irishman is not about to allow the Hammers' recent results to get him down.

"Personally, with the stuff I have been through in my career, I would never have a negative attitude about anything in football," said the 27-year-old. "I truly believe that when we have a full team we can beat any other team in this league - that is the attitude in the dressing room.

"I think the injuries have obviously played a part, but the form hasn't really been up to scratch either and hopefully we can pick it up this year and have a good end to the season.

"We got out of the Championship in my first season at the Club and of course we don't want to go back there. Listen, there is an awful lot of football to be played. If we win next week against Cardiff and the other results go our way, we will be out of the bottom three."

While O'Brien is remaining determinedly upbeat, he did admit that the New Year's Day Barclays Premier League defeat at Fulham had been a blow.

The Hammers took an early lead at Craven Cottage, only to lose Mark Noble through injury, Kevin Nolan through a red card and their lead through goals from Steve Sidwell and Dimitar Berbatov.

"We are very disappointed," admitted the defender. "We all know how big that game was and we went there to get three points and obviously it didn't work, so we are very disappointed.

"The manager said a few things after the game, but I think the lads knew it already because we didn't really play well. Kev getting sent-off didn't really help us either and then conceding from a set play is not good as we couldn't really see them scoring, but it got them back into it I suppose.

"At 1-0 we have a great chance which was [denied by] a great save. At 2-0 then it is a very different game and you can control it, but we were disappointed with the second half. When you have ten men you are going to be up against it and they are going to have chances.

"We had a massive chance at 1-0 and the goalkeeper made a great save and that is the bit of luck you need in these games. If that had gone for us, we would have pushed on and could have controlled the game, but we let them get back into it with a set-play and in the second half they controlled the game."

When asked about Nolan's red card, O'Brien said he had no reason to question referee Mark Clattenburg's decision to send the captain off for kicking out at Fernando Amorebieta.

"I didn't really see it to be honest but the ref was adamant that it was a red card and I don't think he would have made the wrong decision from where he was," said O'Brien. "He had a great angle, so I presume it was a red.

"Of course, he (Nolan) is disappointed. I haven't spoken to him, really, but I suppose he would say that it was a moment of madness. Listen, we could have done better, it was still 1-1, but in the end we didn't have enough to hold on."

O'Brien now knows the importance of the Barclays Premier League trip to Cardiff City on Saturday 11 January.

"I think all anyone is talking about is the next game in the league against Cardiff City. It is a massive game and we have to go up there and win the match, it is as simple as that.

"It is all about the league. It is all about the Premier League and playing in the best league in the world. The players know how big an opportunity it is in your career to be playing at this level and that is why we want to stay here."

One reason why West Ham can definitely stay up is the return of injured players over the coming weeks.

"Stewart Downing is back and he came on at Fulham and looked lively, Andy Carroll is getting back in training, and Ginge and Tonks are not going to be too far away either," concluded O'Brien. "So, hopefully when those players come back and we have a full squad, we can start picking up some points."

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