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Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Hammers full back George McCartney compares this West Ham squad with the one he last played in at Upton Park in the top flight
Defender George McCartney has seen it all before with the Hammers in the Premier League.
But the 31-year-old still feels he has something to prove when the new season kicks-off on Saturday.
“Because I haven’t played there for a couple of seasons, you have a few doubters,” said the Northern Ireland international.
“But I have played enough games to know what is expected of you at this level.
“I’ve got older and more mature and I know that if my game is where I want it to be, I am more than capable of performing at this level.”
McCartney played alongside the likes of Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Neill and Bobby Zamora in his two previous years at the club, so how does this squad compare with that one?
“I have actually thought about that a couple of times in the last few weeks,” he said.
“Looking back at some of the players we had last time, it was a very good squad and if you look at the players, many moved on to the bigger clubs.
“We had some great individuals then, but now we have a great team spirit and a lot of confidence.
“I don’t think it is going to be an easy season, but I know if we all stick together, we can do ourselves proud and hopefully have a respectable season and kick on.”
So what should West Ham fans be hoping for from the team this season? McCartney insists that mere survival is not enough.
“It is definitely not enough,” he said. “I think we should look to be up and around the middle of the table, though I think to get top six these days you need to have a really good squad.
“For us, to finish 10th or 11th would be a very good season, but we are under no illusions, we know how difficult it is going to be.
“But with the group of lads we have got here, we are more than capable of finishing in mid-table.”
McCartney returned to training this week after missing the last couple of pre-season games with injury.
And he is hopeful of making the starting line-up for the clash with Aston Villa.
“I’ve missed a couple of weeks with a tight hamstring,” he revealed.
“I got over it pretty quickly though and was back in training at the beginning of the week, so we will see how this week goes.
“Hopefully I will be available for Saturday.”