G-Mac ready for Sunderland return

Monday evening's Barclays Premier League trip to Sunderland will see George McCartney return to a town and a club he knows very well.

The West Ham United left-back initially joined the Black Cats as a 16-year-old following a successful trial. He went on to captain Sunderland to promotion to the Premier League in 2005.

A year later, McCartney moved to West Ham, spending three seasons in east London before returning to the Stadium of Light for a second time. The final season of that spell saw the 32-year-old loaned back to Hammers, who he helped to win promotion in 2012 before making his switch back to the Boleyn Ground permanent.

"I've watched Sunderland two or three times this season and I don't think their league position reflects how they've been playing, really," said the Belfast-born defender, who totalled 203 appearances for Sunderland over those two spells.

"It'll be a tough place to go. They have picked up one or two decent results at home against the bigger teams and it won't be easy, but hopefully we can take a bit of confidence from Wednesday and get three points, moving us closer to the 40-point mark.

"If it's not going well for Sunderland after 20 or 30 minutes, their fans will get on their backs, but it's down to us to go out and produce a decent performance. We need to keep it tight at the back and if we can nick a goal or two, we can come away with at least a point. That would go a massive way towards getting us the points we need to stay up."

McCartney could find himself up against January's Barclays Player of the Month in England international Adam Johnson. The left-sided right winger has been in very good form this season and will pose a threat to the Hammers.

"He had a very good January and scored a few goals and got Player of the Month after winning them a few games, but he was on the bench against Liverpool last Wednesday, as they changed their formation.

"Whoever plays, it's going to be a difficult game for both teams because we both need the points. No matter who is out on the pitch, we have to give our all and hopefully West Ham will come out on top."

Monday's game comes on the back of a welcome home win over Hull City on Wednesday evening. The Hammers rode their luck to prevail 2-1 courtesy of a penalty and an own-goal, but McCartney was certainly not complaining about the manner of the victory.

"We definitely needed the win over Hull, especially coming off the back of three defeats," he confirmed. "We knew how big that game was and it has given some breathing space again. We needed the three points - I don't even think a draw would have been enough with the fixtures we have got coming up.

"It gives us a big of confidence going into Monday night against Sunderland.

"With our penalty, I think Mo did handball it before, but he's given it. Throughout the season, it evens itself out and we've been unlucky with decisions in recent games. They went for us on Wednesday and we got a bit of luck with the own-goal.

"Hull passed the ball well with ten men, but didn't really create anything. We defended well and we won the game, which was the main thing."