James happy as a travelling man

Owls James O'Connor
Owls James O'Connor
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WEDNESDAY fans may well look upon this week’s trips to Bournemouth and Carlisle as daunting for their team.

But James O’Connor prefers to see them as an opportunity to start putting the away form right after seven successive league defeats on the road.

“These are great games,” he insists. “Not in terms of the distances we have to travel, but we have a great opportunity to go to a team that’s second in the league and try to give a good account of ourselves.

“We have to focus on Bournemouth first and try to do well, and I’m sure that once we get one win we’ll get a few.

“The games are coming thick and fast, and there’s a lot of football to be played.

“I wish we were higher in the table. The first step is to try to earn that win that we need.”

Winning form would also transform the mood of the players, suggests the midfield player: “Everybody is browned off because we’re not winning games,

“Football is great when you’re winning; the supporters enjoy it, the players enjoy it, but when you’re not winning it’s very frustrating.

“There have been games where we have looked well in it but ended up being beaten. That’s something we need to stop, something that we’ve talked about. We all want to win. It’s a case of making sure you do what you can to win.”

O’Connor says that the blame for the team’s leaking of goals cannot just be laid at the door of defenders.

“When the strikers score goals, they get the credit. When a team concede goals, the defenders get it in the neck. But we know we all share the responsibility to make sure we are harder to beat,” he said.

“On Saturday we were playing Premier League opposition and we gifted them a couple of goals. But we did have chances. At Tranmere, we were well in the game and looking as if we had a bit of momentum, then in space of a few minutes were a man down and 2-0 behind. We had chances but you can’t be 2-0 or 3-0 down.”

Birmingham lost Aleksandr Hleb to a tackle by O’Connor for which he was booked.

A knee ligament injury jeopardised Hleb’s chances of facing his old Arsenal in the Carling Cup final on Sunday.

O’Connor confirms his manager’s view that it was a mistimed, not malicious, challenge, brought about by Hleb’s cleverness on the ball.

In O’Connor’s view, the ball seemed to be within tackling range for a moment, but as he tried to win it it was touched away from him and he caught the man instead.

“It must have been the way he landed,” he says. “I didn’t think I hit him that hard.

“I was waiting for him to get up. I couldn’t believe it when I turned around and he was going off on a stretcher.

“I hope he recovers for the final.”