Demel’s delight at making a winning West Ham debut

Ivory Coast right-back happy to be back playing after injury trouble

West Ham defender Guy Demel was delighted to finally make his debut in claret and blue in the Hammers’ 2-0 win at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.

The Ivory Coast international came into the side for Joey O’Brien, putting in a solid display at right-back, and showed that his injury worries are behind him in his first competitive game since April.

“It has been a long while,” said the 30-year-old.

“My last game was in April for Hamburg. I suffered the injury at the start of the season and I have been trying to get fit ever since.

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“It has been frustrating, so I am happy to get on to the pitch and get the chance to play.

“I felt tired towards the end, so I need to do more training with the squad and I will get much better.

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“It is just a matter of time and hard work, but I was pleased I played for 78 minutes, so that was good.”

On his debut at the Riverside, Demel caught the eye with some strong tackling as well as a keenness to get forward at every opportunity, linking up well with Julien Faubert on the right-hand side.

“It worked well between us, but it could be better,” said Demel.

“I think when I am fully fit it will work much better.

“I like to go forward, that is the way I played when I was with Hamburg, but I don’t forget that my first job is to defend.

“After that I like to get up there and get in some balls for the strikers.”

With the Hammers only having two recognised central defenders fit with the injury to Winston Reid, it was suggested that Demel could cover in that position if called upon.

However, the former Hamburg man sees himself predominantly as a right back.

“I have spent the last three years at right-back, even for the Ivory Coast,” he said.

“I have worked on playing in that position and I feel very comfortable playing there.

“For me the most important thing is my fitness. When I am fit I do not have a problem playing in different positions.

“All the time at Hamburg I played in different positions. I played right-back, but also centre-back and centre midfield.”

Having spent a decade in Germany, first of all playing for Borussia Dortmund, before a 2005 transfer to Hamburg, Demel admits he has found a difference between the Bundesliga and the Championship.

“The game is much faster,” he said. “The teams like to play the ball very quickly up to the front and the referee doesn’t like to stop the game too much, so you don’t have too much of a break.

“But football is football, and it is all about kicking the ball, so it is the same also.”

Demel is also confident that West Ham have what it takes to maintain their current form and gain automatic promotion come next April.

“I think right now we are in a very good position,” he said.

“We are second in the league and we have most of our players back from injury.

“So I think the squad is very strong right now and the way we are playing with confidence, I think we can do something good.

“We have to prove ourselves every week, the league is not easy and we have to fight for every result.”

Having made his debut away from Upton Park, Demel is keen to also feature this Saturday, when the Hammers host Burnley at home.

“Of course, I am looking for that,” he said. “I will be working hard up until Saturday, so I am hoping to get the opportunity.

“I know it is not easy to get into the team. We have a good squad, there are a lot of good players in the team and some that are not even in the team at the moment.

“I hope that if I get my chance I will use it well.”

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