O'Connor works closely with the former Liverpool midfielder and is seeking more consistency from the England hopeful.
"I went to see him play for Zaragoza in pre-season and he did quite well," recalls O'Connor to The Sentinel.
"I said to Tony (Pulis) 'I know he's had his problems, but from a footballing point of view there's no doubt about his ability'.
"The only problem we had was the work ethic. But he's such a fit boy that I saw no reason why he couldn't do the work.
"And I think he's done that. He's bought into the fact that there's a work ethic in the team, that everybody is relying on everybody else - and if you don't do it, you don't play.
"The fact is, he's working as hard as the rest of the players."