McLeish lauds O'Connor return
Alex McLeish has praised Garry O'Connor for fighting back from a career-threatening injury
Last Updated: 24/10/10 5:30pm
Alex McLeish has praised Garry O'Connor for fighting back from a career-threatening injury and backed him to be a success.
O'Connor, 27, had missed 10 months of football with a hip injury before returning at the start of the season.
He subsequently had a loan spell at Barnsley to build up his match fitness and started for Birmingham in Saturday's Premier League win over Blackpool.
McLeish adopted a new look 4-3-1-2 formation with O'Connor combining well with Nikola Zigic and Alexander Hleb as they claimed a 2-0 success.
The Scotland international required two operations on both hips during the darkest moments of his injury hell.
O'Connor is now playing for his Birmingham future after only getting a six-month extension to his contract amid concerns about his long-term fitness.
"We know big Garry had had massive trouble with his hips, a real-long term injury," said McLeish.
"He's had a tough time. He got the winner at Hull in the early part of last season and then the problems started.
"There's no doubt it was career threatening. It was a terrible injury. He had two operations on both hips at the same time so that is a huge setback.
"He was looking reasonably sharp in the pre-season programme and then just took a wee dip.
"We put him out on loan at Barnsley to get match fitness although he only played a couple of games.
"He came back and I said 'show that you are better than everyone else Garry'.
"He was brilliant when he went on against Arsenal and did well against Blackpool.
"We need mobility up front and O'Connor has decent mobility, is two-footed, good in the air, Garry, on his game, and is as good a finisher as I've seen."