O'Neil answers our questions
LIAM O'Neil is currently enjoying a loan spell with League One club Scunthorpe United.
We caught up with Liam during his whistle-stop visit to the Albion training ground on Wednesday, to talk about his immediate ambitions, targets with Albion and how life away from the Black Country is treating him.
Q. So Liam, you've been on loan since November. How have you found your experience?
A. I'm enjoying it - getting game time, which was the plan. The only draw back is that recent games haven't gone well. That's not helped our play off push. We need to try and kick-start a little run to make a push during the final few months of the season.
Q. What have you taken so far from your spell at Scunthorpe?
A. It's been about experience and getting to know different styles and levels of football - also about getting games under my belt which I needed at this stage of my career. I've been playing regular football, as a defensive midfielder but also in a more offensive role, as a No10, which has been a new thing for me to adjust to, but I've really enjoyed it. It's made me think about my game, and definitely added to it. The best thing is the contrasting styles you get at League One level - we've played sides who pass it around a lot but also those who are more direct. It's good experience for me. Also, I've been getting used to Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday games, which has taken some getting used to. It's relentless at times and I think maybe our form has suffered a bit. We had 11 games in 30 days - that took its toll and it's something I've not been used to before.
Q. What are your aims for the remainder of this season?
A. To finish as high as we can. We're 17th at the moment - seven points from the relegation zone, seven points from the play-offs. We were 21st when I first arrived so we had a decent run but results have tailed off a bit. We can still make the play-offs but we need to get some momentum going, which is something we've not really been able to do of late. From a personal point of view, I've scored twice - I want to finish on around eight by the end of this season.
Q. You could have stayed at Albion and battled for your place, so why make the loan move?
A. Alan Irvine was still boss but I just wanted to tick off another box in my career by being able to say I've played at this particular level, proven myself and that I'm ready to move onto the next level. But I also want to prove that I can be a valuable player for this club. Game time is what I wanted and what I need right now. And another reason for me coming to Scunthorpe was to join a side who play good football - rather than a direct one where the midfield gets by-passed.
Q. Presumably a good spell on loan could see you on Tony Pulis' radar next season. Have you spoken to him?
A. I've spoken briefly to the gaffer but not in depth because obviously he has a big job to do here and me being out on loan isn't a priority right now. He and Terry (Burton) told me to keep going and keep performing and the rewards will come. All the time I'm getting more games and minutes on my belt and the aim is to return a better player to the one who left. When I return I want to put my name in the frame for the first team to prove I am good enough to be a West Bromwich Albion player.
wba.co.uk wish Liam and Scunthorpe United all the best for the remainder of this season.