Friday, April 30, 2010

Wilson tipped for big future

Portsmouth midfielder Michael Brown is tipping surprise-package Marc Wilson for big, big things after his impressive maiden Pompey campaign.

The 22-year-old was thrown into Paul Hart's side at the start of the season following a flood of top-name departures.

No player has started more Premier League games for the Blues this season than Wilson.

It's testament to the prodigious talent of a player whose very first-team presence has come under intense scrutiny from fans at times.

Nonetheless, after playing much of the season in central defence, Wilson has gone on to establish himself as a holding midfielder - his preferred position - and become an outstanding performer.

Wilson is set to return to the Blues' line-up against Wolves on Saturday after being rested on the bench at Bolton.

And Brown regards the Irishman as one of the successes of the season.

He said: 'If Marc keeps on the right track he has a good chance of being a good Premier League player.

'You look at him and he is only 22 and has got a bit of everything.

'He has a bit of pace, has got that bit of grit about him, possesses composure on the ball, has long-range passing and he can play in several positions. People talk about his best role in the team, but I think Marc's good either way.

'He might prefer midfield but I think he'll do a job at centre half as well. He's got that versatility.

'He's got better for sure. It's difficult as well for someone to do particularly well and shine in a team which has not got results.

‘we have lost games, but people have noticed Marc and noticed what a good, young player he is.

‘I think everything has been put on the back burner with regards to the usual players' player of the year event.

‘But I would certainly think about Marc.'

Wilson's great progress for Pompey this season earned him his maiden Ireland call-up in February and he has attracted interest from Sunderland and Fulham, and both have been linked with close-season swoops.

With Portsmouth administrator Andrew Andronikou looking to cash in on some of the Blues' most bankable assets during the summer to keep the club afloat, the sale of Wilson may well be an attractive proposition.

And Brown is anticipating plenty more interest in the rising star.

He added: ‘I think there will be some clubs in for him in the summer willing to pay decent money.

‘We'll just have to see what happens, it's out of our control.

‘But I am sure there will be other clubs willing to take him.'

Monday, April 26, 2010

Trapattoni names 23 man squad for Ireland training camp

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has announced a list of 23 players, including eight uncapped players, who will take part in a summer training camp in Malahide from 16 to 21 May.

Former League of Ireland stars Brian Murphy and Keith Fahey are both included in the squad, as are Sunderland's David Meyler, Derby County's Paul Green and Portsmouth's County Antrim born defender Marc Wilson .

Everton's Derry born defender Shane Duffy, and Wolves duo Kevin Foley and Stephen Ward make up the uncapped contingent.

Giovanni Trapattoni said: 'Training camps are useful for preparation as was proven by the one we held prior to our World Cup qualifying campaign.

'I look forward to working with these new players and learning firsthand what they have to offer as we begin to prepare for the European Championship qualifiers.'

Remaining squad members will join the camp on May 22 to prepare for the forthcoming pair of friendlies against Paraguay and Algeria on May 25 and 28 respectively in the RDS (kick off 7.45pm).

Ireland training camp squad: Keiren Westwood, Joe Murphy, Brian Murphy, Stephen Kelly, Eddie Nolan, Paul McShane, Shane Duffy, Kevin Foley, Stephen Ward, Marc Wilson, Darren O'Dea, Keith Treacy, Darron Gibson, Andy Keogh, James McCarthy, Liam Lawrence, David Meyler, Keith Fahey, Paul Green, Caleb Folan, Leon Best, Shane Long, Anthony Stokes

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shay Given suffers serious shoulder injury

Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given looks set to miss the upcoming friendlies against Paraguay and Algeria at the RDS after seriously injuring his shoulder in Manchester City’s Premier League draw against Arsenal at The Emirates this evening.

The Donegal born player landed heavily on his left shoulder in pulling off a save from a stinging Vassiriki Diaby shot and looked in a lot of pain during lengthy treatment on the pitch.

Given was administered oxygen before being taken off on a stretcher to be replaced by Gunnar Nielsen.

The worry for Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is that Given has already had surgery on a left shoulder that has troubled him throughout his career.

If he requires a further operation it could also rule him out of the glamour friendly against Argentina at the new Aviva Stadium on August 11th, before Trapattoni’s side open their European Championship qualifying campaign away to Armenia on September 3rd.

Gibson starts to realise his potential

In a rare interview last year, Darron Gibson touched on a scepticism which he is starting to overcome, a scepticism that every emerging talent at Manchester United must encounter.

"I don't want people looking at me and thinking: 'What is he doing playing?'" said the Derry native. His increasing involvement in the first-team picture at Old Trafford has left that question lingering. Alex Ferguson has faith. The paying public are yet to be fully convinced.

Unlike John O'Shea, who made a high profile emergence into the big time that was aided by an affability with the media at that juncture, Gibson's progression has largely gone unheralded.

Last weekend's slip-up from Chelsea has offered the 22-year-old a chance to join the elite club of Irishmen with Premier League medals which counts Roy Keane, Denis Irwin, Damien Duff, Jeff Kenna and O'Shea as its only members. Given the dearth of players from these shores on the books of the Big Four, he's the only likely contender to join those ranks for the foreseeable future.

It's been a significant season for the midfielder in the sense that he has moved from the periphery towards the inner circle. Enthusiasm at his progression last term was tempered by the reality that he started just one Premier League game -- the dead rubber at Hull on the final day, which he marked with a late 'goal of the season' contender.

This season, aided by the perpetual injuries suffered by Owen Hargreaves and the indifferent form of Michael Carrick and Anderson, Gibson's stock has risen. He has been involved in 14 Premier League matches thus far, one more than the luckless O'Shea who suffered a freak injury in Paris, and been involved in six from the outset. Significantly, he has been entrusted with responsibility by being given the nod for marquee games with Bayern Munich and Manchester City in the last fortnight. Although the former occasion ended in disappointment, he grabbed the opening goal.

"He is getting recognition now and even the players are commenting on how much he has improved," said Ferguson, last week. "That was his sixth goal of the season and you cannot dismiss that.

"It's the kind of contribution we used to get from Paul Scholes. He used to get me to 12 to 14 goals from midfield all the time and we haven't had a player like that for a while."

They are big words to live up to and, judged against those standards, Gibson will always be exposed to flak. Nevertheless, he endured some ridiculously over the top abuse in these parts when he broke into the Irish set-up.

An unconvincing competitive debut against Cyprus earned the wrath of the RTE panel and he has yet to stand out in an Irish jersey looking unsuited by a deep lying role when Ferguson has used him as an attacking midfielder.

Indeed, while Giovanni Trapattoni may be reluctant to tinker with his system, the increasing use of a lone front man at the top level is weighted in favour of Gibson, who, at this stage of his development, is considered a luxury in a four-man midfield.

It's his inability to really impose himself on a game that has given ammunition to his critics. He spent a period on loan with Wolves in 2007/08 and struggled with the demands of the Championship. Team-mates spotted an ability on the training ground which he failed to bring into battle. Similarly, he has dominated matches at reserve level, playing with real assertiveness compared to his outings in the spotlight.

With Ireland he has struggled to find his range and, save for an impressive cameo in Bari last April, his performances have underwhelmed. Surprisingly, for a player with a reputation for his prowess on the ball, he has lacked assurance in possession. Trapattoni was instantly bowled over by his willingness to get involved in a 'B' international with Nottingham Forest where he was a lively presence, but, on occasions, the game has passed him by.

Certainly, his well-being will be central to Ireland's hopes of qualifying for major tournaments in the next decade. Big name players are needed to replace Robbie Keane, Duff and Richard Dunne as they approach their swansong; at this stage, Gibson and the immensely promising Wigan star James McCarthy are the front runners to become the key figures of a new generation.

The nickname 'Moody' suggests that he can be a difficult character, very much a confidence player. However, after becoming a father last year when his girlfriend of four years gave birth to a baby girl, there is evidence of a growing maturity. "I don't really go out any more, I can't be bothered," said Gibson. "It's the same faces and posers all the time."

It's an attitude which will endear him to Ferguson. He awarded Gibson a new three-year deal last year and, with a summer of hectic transfer business anticipated at Old Trafford, he's far more secure than some of his colleagues.

If he adds conviction to the raw materials, then he'll be around for the long haul. A world of opportunity awaits.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Keane takes Celtic gong

Robbie Keane has been voted the Celtic fans' player of the year despite having been at the club only two-and-a-half months.

The 29-year-old striker joined the Scottish giants on loan from Tottenham just hours before the transfer window closed at the start of February amid huge fanfare at Parkhead.

The Ireland international collected the award at the club's annual dinner after taking his tally to 13 goals in 15 games with the opener in Saturday's 3-2 home win against Hibernian.

However, Keane's impressive personal form failed to revive Celtic's season, with manager Tony Mowbray sacked as they fell further behind in the title race, while the Bhoys were then dumped out of the Scottish Cup semi-finals by Ross County in one of the worst defeats in the club's history.

Fellow Ireland international Aiden McGeady was a clear winner in the players' player of the year category but Keane's gong shows how few Celtic players have impressed consistently this season.

Keane also shared the top goalscorer award with Georgios Samaras, although both have netted one less than Scott McDonald, who was sold to Middlesbrough in January.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Marc Wilson looks forward to cup final

Ireland international Marc Wilson insisted Portsmouth's victory over Spurs will provide the team with inspiration when they face Chelsea in the Cup final.

Avram Grant's side sprung a major surprise as they delivered a big upset to knock out Harry Redknapp's men at Wembley on Sunday.

Pompey battled their way through to the final with a display of grit and heart.

County Antrim born Wilson felt the match proved to be a nip-and-tuck affair, before his side took the lead in extra-time through Frederic Piquionne.

They doubled their advantage through a Prince Boateng penalty to seal a win which will go down in Fratton folklore.

Wilson's side now have an even bigger task in the final when they face Chelsea.

But the Irishman believes yesterday's triumph can provide inspiration for another unlikely success.

Wilson said: 'I don't think there was a lot between the teams.

'Tottenham are a great side with great players.

'I think we just nicked the goal at the right time and that was good for us.

'Chelsea are a great team. They are one of the best teams in England, if not the best. We don't care who we'll face. We are just delighted that we have made it this far.

'We have to carry on in the same way we have been going so far. It's been a fantastic run.

'Chelsea are a good side, but so are Spurs – and no-one gave us a chance of beating them.'

Wilson explained there were riotous scenes in the Pompey dressing room after yesterday's win.

He said: 'The lads are buzzing. It was a brilliant atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards. It was definitely a bit lively.

'I was really pleased for the lads and delighted to get the result.

'It's a huge achievement to get to the final.'

Friday, April 9, 2010

Daniel Kearns strike seals second victory for Ireland

A second half goal by Ireland striker Daniel Kearns at Tolka Park on Thursday night made it two wins from this week's double-header friendly against Poland.

Belfast born Kearns marked his first start for Ireland with a goal which gave his side a 1-0 victory in the U-19 international.

The pair of victories in their final warm-up games will give the Irish a boost ahead of the UEFA Elite qualifiers which takes place in Ukraine from May 26-31 against England, Bosnia-Herzegovina and mini-group hosts.

It took an Irish attack of sublime quality in the 58th minute to break the deadlock. Substitute Conor Henderson split the vistors' defence with a threaded pass to Doran on the left, who in turn found Kearns in the box with his back to goal. The West Ham United forward turned his marker brilliantly and fired a low shot past Socha in the Poland goal.

Daniel Kearns was delighted to score the winner on the night in only his second game under Sean McCaffrey.

He admitted: "Obviously it was brilliant for me to score on my first start." However, he was even happier with the team's performance over the two games "These games have been great preparation for the elite qualifying stage. We have a very tough group so it will be good to go into the qualifiers on the back of two good performances."

Ireland: Ger Hanley (Mervue United); Padraic Ormsby (Shamrock Rovers), Gavin Gunning (Rotherham United), Rob Kiernan (Kilmarnock), Shaun Timmins (Birmingham City); Aaron Doran (Blackburn Rovers), Jimmy Keohane (Wexford Youths), Conor Hourihane (Sunderland), Daniel Kearns (West Ham United); Jamil Adam (Barnsley), Charlie Collins (MK Dons)

Substitutions: Ronan Murray (Ipswich Town) for Collins, Conor Henderson (Arsenal) for Keohane (both h/t), Thomas McBride (Derry City) for Hourihane, Gary Burke (Bohemians) for Kearns (both 65 mins), Cian Bolger (Leicester City) for Kiernan, Ryan Brennan (Drogheda United) for Adam (both 76 mins), Shane McEleney (Derry City) for Timmons (84 mins)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seamus Coleman can't wait for Everton return

Seamus Coleman can’t wait to return to Everton despite forging a reputation as a rising loan star in the Championship.

The Irish full-back from Killybegs in Donegal has built on his growing potential with a string of superb performances for Blackpool, where he is currently on loan from the Toffees.

Coleman, 21, has already scored for his temporary club and was voted man of the match for Ian Holloway’s side after their victory over Doncaster on Easter Monday.
Now Everton boss David Moyes will mull over a likely request from Holloway to extend the right-back’s loan period until the end of the season.

The original agreement between the clubs was for a month-long deal which is set to end next week.

Coleman is hoping he will be allowed to stay and help the Seasiders’ bid to reach the play-offs.

But he is determined to be back at Goodison for next season, when he believes the Blues are on the brink of a special campaign.

He said: “Everton is the place to be now. It's a pity our run in Europe is over, I played in three games in the Europa League and that was a great experience, but I feel we could really do something at Everton next season. I want to be part of that.

“I had a good chat with David Moyes before I came here, he told me straight that I was doing well and that I was still in his plans but he just wanted me to get some more experience.

“I am getting games and that's the main reason I came here – to get more experience.”

Coleman has been encouraged to attack by Holloway, and scored an impressive solo goal against Scunthorpe on Good Friday.

He said: “David Moyes has managed in the Championship, he knows it's a good standard and a good test for me.

“Everton have been in touch all along since I came here on loan. Alan Stubbs rings me after every gameto see how I got on, and the club are following my progress, so that's good to know.

“But Moyes has told me that my future lies with Everton and that they certainly don't have any plans to sell me.

“I have 18 months left on my contract so I intend to see that out and they want to keep me, they seem happy with how I am doing.”

On whether he will remain at Bloomfield Road, he said: “We’ll obviously have to wait and see what Everton say, but whatever both clubs want I’d be happy with.

“I’d love to stay and help us get promoted, but if I have to go back that’s the way it is, and I just have to do whatever I’m told.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lawrence may move to save Ireland career

Liam Lawrence says he wants more regular football to keep alive his Ireland career and this could mean his leaving Stoke is search of more regular starts for his club team.

He revealed that Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has warned him that he must find regular first-team football.

The 28 year old midfielder, scored in Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Hull but is unhappy with how this season has gone.

Lawrence said: ‘I’ve not done as well as I’ve wanted. I’ve been in and out of the side, which hasn’t helped. I’ve spoken at length to the manager (Tony Pulis). We’ve had a couple of meetings.

‘We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I just want to play football. Being in the Premier League at a good team like Stoke, it’s not guaranteed.

‘Trapattoni has spoken to me about it and I do need to be playing to keep involved with the squad.

'To play me in the massive games that he did for Ireland gave me massive confidence and he’s a fantastic manager.’

Lawrence admitted that his form has fortunes have gone downhill since Ireland’s World Cup play-off heartbreak.

He said: ‘When I’ve come back to Stoke, sometimes I’ve not played as well as I can do and maybe that’s why I’ve not played as regularly.

'After the France game, I came back and was in and out. It’ s just been one of those seasons and it’s been the worst since I’ve been at Stoke.

‘I don’t know if it’s because of the disappointment of losing to France. It’s down to me now. I’ve just got to keep my head down and try to stay in the team for the rest of the season.’

The former Sunderland player, who has been at Stoke since January 2007, explained his emotional celebration after scoring on Saturday by saying: ‘It was a massive relief. I’ve bided my time this season. I’m feeling stronger all the time.’

It was his first goal since he scored against the same opponents at the KC Stadium last May.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stubbs impressed by shane Duffy

Everton reserve team coach Alan Stubbs believes one of the real positives to be taken from the recent 0-0 draw with Manchester City was the impressive form of Ireland international Shane Duffy.

The teenage Derry born centre-back was given the captain's armband for the fixture and Stubbs has been delighted with the Irishman’s progress this season.

"The one thing about Shane is that he competes very well," said former Toffee's defender Stubbs.

"We're still trying to get that little bit of sloppiness out of his game from time to time, but that comes with being a young defender. The coaches are trying to make him understand the consequences of any decision-making and hopefully he will learn from that.

"He was one player who stood up against the test and he led by example."