Team comes first for McCartney

George McCartney is closing in on a half-century of consecutive league and cup games but the defender is more focused on helping West Ham United turn things around.

Since coming in to the side on 17 March 2007 at Blackburn Rovers, the first of seven wins from the final nine games last season, McCartney has been an ever-present for Alan Curbishley. Those appearances in that thrilling run-in added to the 33 league and six cup matches to date this season leave him two short of 50 straight games at club level. In a season characterised by players coming in and out, McCartney's feat is an impressive one.

The milestone could be achieved at home to Derby County on 19 April but all thoughts for now are solely on this Saturday's trip to Bolton Wanderers. McCartney, who has also figured in three Northern Ireland internationals this campaign, said there was a strong desire within the squad to keep going and ensure a strong finish. "It has just been a disappointing few weeks," he said. "We just have to try and look to Bolton now and pick ourselves up. They will be up for it and we need to be as well.

"The manager is not going to let us slip away. We have been in the top half of the table for most of the season. We have got five games left and it is up to the players to secure at least tenth place. It all starts again against Bolton." In terms of fitness, McCartney should be OK to play, having put the previous week's hamstring troubles at Sunderland behind him by coming through the full 90 minutes against Portsmouth.

The left-back, who turns 27 on 26 April, showed up well on Tuesday, particularly in tandem with fellow left-footers Luis Boa Morte and Bobby Zamora in the early stages. He said: "I have had it for a few weeks now but it is not holding me back from playing. It was a bit worse than what it usually is against Sunderland last week, that's why I had to come off - but it held up better against Portsmouth and hopefully I can see out the season without serious problems.

"I want to play every week. I am really happy with how things are going for me personally but it is disappointing that the results haven't been as good as what they were earlier in the season. It is up to the players, the coaches and the manager to prepare for Bolton on Saturday and make sure we give our fans a good end to the season."