Hammer faces up to long injury lay-off

West Ham midfielder Gary O’Neil could be sidelined for six months after undergoing ankle surgery

One man who will play no part in West Ham’s battle for Premier League safety is midfielder Gary O’Neil who has been ruled out for the season.

The 27-year-old suffered a serious ankle injury after a tackle from Nigel Reo-Coker in the clash with Aston Villa and he underwent an operation at the end of last week.

“It was a successful operation,” confirmed the former Middlesbrough midfielder, who has made eight appearances in claret and blue. “I have got some joint damage in the ankle that they had to sort out, but I am told it went well.”

O’Neil had been an important part of West Ham’s resurrection since January, slotting in on the right hand side of midfield and adding much-needed balance.

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But now he faces some considerable time on the sidelines as he is not allowed to do any sort of exercise for at least a month.

“I have got my head around the time scale involved for my condition,” he said. “I have just got to keep my foot up for a few weeks and take it from there.”

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Freddie Sears replaced him on that right hand side for the trip to Chelsea, but O’Neil will still be kicking every ball with the rest of the team as they battle for survival.

“I am disappointed not to be involved for the last few games,” he admitted.

“But I am looking to get back as fast as I can next season.

“I will be right behind the lads and I’ll be cheering them on at the matches.”

O’Neil is not expected to be fit until around October at the earliest.

Make sure you log on to www.london24.com/west-ham from 2.30pm this Saturday for interactive coverage of West Ham v Blackpool.

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