West Ham sign Gary O'Neil and close in on Demba Ba

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The Independent Football

West Ham have completed the signing of midfielder Gary O'Neil from Middlesbrough.

The 27-year-old former Portsmouth player arrives at West Ham on a permanent deal having signed a two-and-a-half-year contract after an undisclosed fee was agreed with the Championship side.

O'Neil will be available for tomorrow's night's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Birmingham.

O'Neil spent two years with West Ham as a youngster and admits it feels he has "come home".

He told whufc.com: "I'm really pleased to sign. It all happened very quickly.

"I played for Middlesbrough at the weekend and didn't know anything was going to happen. It has all gathered pace since then.

"There was also a big rush to do it quickly when they realised I wasn't cup-tied.

"I enjoyed my time at Middlesbrough, the fans and staff were really good but it has been a difficult time on the pitch.

"It is nice to be back in the Premier League and play at the top level, which everyone wants to do. I am London born so it is good to come home.

"It is great that the club have such a massive game to look forward to.

"I haven't trained yet with the team so it is up to the manager of course if he wants to use me. I will take it one step at a time but it is a big game and it could be a case of straight in at the deep end if involved."

O'Neil's arrival follows that of Wayne Bridge, who joined on loan from Manchester City earlier this month.

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