Gabbidon battles for a new deal
West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon is hoping to stay fit and earn a new contract at the club.
But when your usual position is as centre half and you are having to fill in for a team that haven’t won a league game all season, it becomes a baptism of fire.
But it was one that Wales international Danny Gabbidon passed with flying colours at Upton Park on Saturday.
The pint-sized wingman got past him once and it nearly led to a goal, but in the second half Lennon was substituted without ever delivering a telling blow.
“It was a tough test,” said the 31-year-old. “I played against Jermaine Pennant last week and that was a good test for me at left back.
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“I know Lennon is a top quality player, so I had to be sharp and play well to keep him quiet.”
Having been out for so long with back and abdominal injuries that seemed to threaten his career, Gabbidon is just happy to be playing.
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“Obviously I prefer it in the middle, but at the moment I’m having to do a job there,” he said.
“I’m just enjoying playing at the moment. If it means playing left back I’ll do that, I’m not bothered about that.
“I played there a couple of times last season and I did start my career at West Brom as a right back, so it’s not totally foreign to me, so if the manager wants me to do a job there that’s fine – I’ll play striker if he wants me to!”
On a personal level, Gabbidon is battling for a new contract next summer, something that seemed a remote possibility when he was stuck on the treatment table for so long.
In five years at the club, the 2006 Hammer of the Year has played just 90 games and he will have to prove his long-term fitness if he is to earn a new deal.
“This is my last year bow so it’s quite an important season for me,” he explained.
“I want to stay fit and play games and prove I’m worthy of a new contract.
“We haven’t started talking about one yet. I think I’ll have to play a few more games and prove my fitness for a little bit longer.
“But if I keep playing and playing well, that hopefully will come.”
While the likes of Dean Ashton and Kieron Dyer have had plenty of publicity about their career-threatening injuries, Gabbidon remained in the background for much of his time out.
He admitted that they were tough periods. “At times you are low,” he said. “Nobody wants to be injured, you want to be out there playing every week.
“It’s tough, but my team-mates at the time were great, they always supported me and looked forward to getting back out there.
“I’m back now and hopefully I can keep putting in the hard work and stay fit and play as many games as I can.”
Gabbidon may not be the long-term answer at left back, but a fit Welshman, with the way he reads the game, is always going to be a huge asset to West Ham.