MX23RW : Sunday, November 18 17:10:32

Interview: Stuart O'Keefe

Sports Mole catches up with new Cardiff City midfielder Stuart O'Keefe, who joined the Championship side last week.

Ask any Crystal Palace supporter about Stuart O'Keefe and the response is always the same. A vastly-popular midfielder at Selhust Park, O'Keefe ended his five-year association with the Eagles last week after completing a move to Cardiff City.

The 23-year-old, who also had a short loan spell at Blackpool earlier this season, has penned a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Welsh outfit and made his debut in last weekend's Championship clash at home to Derby County.

Here, Sports Mole has caught up with the all-action midfielder to discuss his new move and hopes for the future.

Crystal Palace's English midfielder Stuart OKeefe vies with West Ham United's English midfielder Mark Noble (R) during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park in south London on August 23, 2014© Getty Images

Firstly Stuart, how pleased are you to be a Cardiff City player and were there any other clubs interested in the January window?

"To be honest, I am over the moon. I am chuffed with it. When my agent told me that Cardiff was involved, I was desperate to push it through. There were a couple of other clubs interested. Millwall were one of those, but Cardiff was the one that stuck out for me and I was happy to get it over the line. It is a massive club with a lot of potential, good facilities, nice stadium, so I was keen to go there."

What about your debut against Derby at the weekend? Disappointing result, but you must have been pleased to go straight into the team?

"Yeah it was pleasing. Obviously it was a disappointing result. I had my medical last week and only trained Thursday and Friday so to go straight into the team said a lot.

"It was a poor result, but Derby are top of the league and the club is in a bit of a transition at the moment with signings and people coming in and out so it was always going to be hard [against Derby]. I was just pleased to make my debut and it is onwards and upwards now.

"Who knows? We have had a different run, playing Derby, Middlesbrough and Norwich City. We have had a difficult January and with people coming in and out, it makes it hard. Who knows what could happen? In this league, you put three or four wins together and you are back up there. There is still a long way to go in the season."

You also had a short loan spell at Blackpool earlier this season, was it difficult to come into a struggling club?

"It was difficult. It was one of those where I had to decide whether I would just sit at Palace – having been left out of their 25-man Premier League squad due to injury – or go and get football elsewhere.

"It was the last day of the loan window and it was difficult, everyone knows the circumstances and the situation the club is in, but I was happy to go up there. I appreciated that they wanted me and I played four games in a month. It was definitely better than sitting and doing nothing."

What about Palace? Was it frustrating not to be more involved this season after impressing during the 2013-14 campaign?

"It was really frustrating. I thought that I had a good season last season under Ian Holloway and Tony Pulis, and I had a good pre-season, but Pulis left just before the Arsenal game, which was a bit of a surprise to everyone. I came on at Arsenal and then started at West Ham and it looked positive for me, but I then got that bad injury, which set me back three months or it would have been more if I needed surgery so it wasn't easy.

"Neil Warnock then came in and decided not to put me in the 25-man squad, which was a setback mentally. It was a knockback because I felt that I deserved to be in it. My main concern at the time though was to make sure that my injury was right and not to come back too soon.

"It was Alan Pardew's first game [against Dover Athletic] and I came into the team and I thought we did really well that day. I was happy to be back at Palace, but I wasn't involved in the Spurs game the following weekend which was a surprise to me, so I thought the writing was on the wall. Pardew looked like strengthening the squad and it was around that time that other clubs were showing an interest."

Tom Bonner and Andrew Rafferty of Dover block a shot by Stuart O'Keefe of Palace during the FA Cup Third Round match between Dover Athletic and Crystal Palace on January 4, 2015© Getty Images

"I am 23 now and at the stage of my life where I want to move on and get a lot of games under my belt, playing as many games as possible. I loved it at Palace, loved the lads and the place, it just wasn't meant to be. I am really looking forward to my new challenge.

"The fans were great to me at Palace. When I first went there under George Burley, they were struggling and had just come out of administration. I went through some tough times at Palace, but the last couple of years just took off – getting promoted, the playoff final, staying in the Premier League for the first time. I had some great memories and the Palace fans were supporting me along the way."

Finally, has the training ground at Cardiff been a welcoming place and what are your hopes for this weekend's trip to Sheffield Wednesday?

"The lads have been brilliant. I know a few of the lads – Kagisho Dikgacoi, Danny Gabbidon, Scott Malone, Alex Revell and Sean Morrison - so I know a few of them anyway. They have taken to me well and I have got a really good feeling about Cardiff.

"Sheffield Wednesday will be a tough place to go. Everyone knows that Hillsborough is an old-school ground. They are not doing too bad this year. We will go there and it will be hard, it will be a bit of a scrap, but we are up for the fight and can hopefully go there and get something."

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Matt Jarvis in action for West Ham on November 22, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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