Birthday boy O’Neil hoping for present of new Hammers contract

Hammers midfielder Gary ONeill (right), in action at Goodison Park on Sunday, hopes he has done eno

Hammers midfielder Gary ONeill (right), in action at Goodison Park on Sunday, hopes he has done enough to earn himself a new contract - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Midfielder O’Neil hoping he’s done enough to earn a new deal

West Ham midfielder Gary O’Neil is hoping that he has done enough to earn himself a new deal at Upton Park after starting the last 11 games in claret and blue.

The former Middlesbrough and Portsmouth man, who turns 30 this Saturday, is out of contract at the club next week, but he is making a battling attempt to stay at the club as they continue to improve.

“I’d love to stay, but I haven’t heard anything yet from the club to be honest,” he said after Sunday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park. “There is only a week to go now, so we will have to wait and see.

“I will concentrate on playing next week and then I’ve got my holidays booked for next Tuesday, so I am looking forward to that. I’m just waiting for the club to let me know what they are going to do, I haven’t heard either way.”

Earlier in the season the chances were that O’Neil, one of the few Avram Grant signings still at the club, would be departing when his two and a half year deal ended, but since injury to Mark Noble thrust him into a starting role, he has played an important part in West Ham’s march towards safety and kept his place when last season’s Hammer of the Year returned to fitness.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” said O’Neil. “That is 11 starts on the trot. The manager showed a lot of faith in leaving me in there when ‘Nobes’ was fit again and since I have been in there we have managed to secure safety.

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“We were quite close to the bottom before we went and won at Stoke and got other results, while last year when he called me in with 15 games to go we managed to get over the line.

“So I think I have done okay when he has used me and hopefully that is enough for him to want to offer me something.”

TO’Neil and his team-mates certainly had a tough time on Sunday at Everton as the midfielder readily admits.

“It was disappointing, I think we got outplayed a little bit,” said O’Neil. “They are a good side and it was a big occasion for them and we got a little bit overrun at times.

“We couldn’t cope with the way they overloaded the middle of the park, with (Steven) Pienaar coming in there, there was five of them at times.”

O’Neil was replaced by Noble after 64 minutes and the two will be vying for a starting spot against Reading on Sunday for the final match of the season.

“Noble has had a good season, right up until he got injured, but the run of results we had maybe helped my cause when it came to staying in the team,” said O’Neil.

“The gaffer has now got a decision to make, there are plenty of times when he has chosem ‘Nobes’. I was the one lucky enough to have the berth for the last few games. There is one more to go so we will see who gets it next week.”

Whatever happens against Reading and with any potential new deal, the likeable midfielder, who came back from a career-threatening injury to help the Hammers back into the Premier League, has had a great time at Upton Park, adding: “I have enjoyed all my time here, the lads have been great in the two and a half years of my contract and even the time I haven’t played, I have enjoyed being part of the squad.

“The fans have been brilliant too and in the two full seasons I have had, we have won promotion and we are now 10th in the Premier League so two fairly successful campaigns.”

They certainly have been and O’Neil has played his part in that. Whether that deserves a new deal, we will learn in the next couple of weeks.