Monday, November 29, 2010
Ciarán Clark insists he has no regrets about deciding to pledge his international future to Ireland rather than England.
The 21-year-old Aston Villa centre-back underlined his massive potential with two goals in the 4-2 defeat by Arsenal on Saturday.
Clark, who has played for England Under U-20’s, impressed as an emergency midfielder against the Gunners, but is standing by his choice to represent Ireland and hopes to make his debut for the senior team against Macedonia in March.
“I’ve made my decision, I am Irish,” said Clark.
I’ve played for England in the younger age groups but the time has come and I’ve decided to play for Ireland if selected. All my family is based in Ireland. If selected I’m sure I will have so much support over there.
“I am just looking forward to the next international game now as I was injured for the last one but there are a lot of games before then for Villa.”
Of his goals against Arsenal he said: “I didn’t have time to celebrate, I just wanted to get the ball back and push on for the next one.”
Meanwhile Villa boss Gerard Houllier has sung the praises of Clark after the youngster netted twice in the defeat to Arsenal.
After going into the interval two down, Clark twice brought Villa to within a goal of the Gunners before Jack Wilshere's stoppage-time header secured the points for Arsene Wenger's men.
The brace was the 21-year-old's first-ever senior goals for the club and Houllier is looking for the defender-turned-midfielder to push on.
The French boss said: "Ciaran can play centre-back, as he did against Blackburn last week, but I think, because he has footballing qualities, he can help as a defensive midfielder.
“We played him there because we are practically depleted in midfield.
"Ciarán is doing that very well at the moment and he can also score goals.
"He almost did against Chelsea, when he hit the post. He is developing. He is coming up well."
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has praised the impact of Irish international Jon Walters since his arrival at the club in the summer.
The 27-year-old international scored two goals in the Potters' 3-0 win against West Brom last weekend, taking his tally to four for Stoke.
Walters previously plied his trade in the lower leagues before moving to Stoke from Ipswich Town, and Pulis is delighted with his attitude and commitment.
"Jon has not just been bought in respect of what he is going to do in the first team," he said.
"He has also been bought as a player who will mix in with the group and his attitude and commitment to everything he does, both on and off the pitch, is absolutely first-class.
"The players have really taken to him. We have a good spirit at the football club and the secret is to try and maintain that spirit and togetherness. Jon has moulded in so well.
"Obviously we are delighted he has got four goals already this season, but it's also his application and attitude around the place.
"As a lad, he has really mixed in and grown with the group."
Stoke's win against the Baggies was their third successive victory and it came after a run of four league defeats.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
According to reports in today's Daily Mirror, Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier is interested in bringing Manchester United's Darron Gibson to Aston Villa.
The Villa boss is said to be keen on the Derry born Irish midfielder, but would need a major favour from old rival Sir Alex Ferguson to get his man.
Gibson, 23, is a squad player at Old Trafford but Houllier believes he would be a key man in his first XI.
Villa will try to sign Gibson in January, either on loan or on a permanent basis. They believe they may be able to tempt United into loaning him out if it means getting him regular Premier League games and improving his long-term career prospects.
The Ireland international is renowned for having a powerful shot but has yet to develop into a first-team regular at Old Trafford.
Houllier knows he will face a battle to persuade United but the loan option gives him some hope, especially with Gibson still struggling for regular first team games.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Ireland U21 international Conor Clifford wants to start getting in among the goals during the second month of his loan spell at Plymouth Argyle.
And there would be no better time for the 19-year-old Dublin born Chelsea midfielder to open his account than against Brentford at Home Park tomorrow.
Argyle have lost their last three matches in all competitions, and are 19th in League One, one position below Brentford on goal difference.
So, even at this relatively stage of the season, it is an important match for the Pilgrims.
The loan deal which will see Clifford stay for another month was being finalised today.
Clifford has already made five appearances for Argyle, and been a hit with manager Peter Reid.
The Ireland international admitted he had been pleased with the way he had settled at Home Park.
He told Herald Sport: "I think I have done quite well, but there is still a lot more I can give to the team.I'm happy enough with how I'm playing. Hopefully, I can just keep it up and get a few goals.I haven't got off the mark yet, but hopefully, I will get my first one tomorrow."
Clifford had a scoring chance near the end of Argyle's 1-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers last Saturday, but he shot wide.
He said: "When I came here, the gaffer (Peter Reid) had me sitting in the midfield, to get used to it really.
"But now he has taken my reins off a bit and I can play my proper game.
"I will be trying to get forward a lot more, to get some shots in, and to get closer to Brad (striker Bradley Wright-Phillips)."
Clifford had not played any first team football before signing on loan for Argyle and has enjoyed the experience tremendously.
"I have loved it" he said. "It's brilliant I have got games under my belt.
"The whole idea was for me to come down here and play some games and get good experience.
"The gaffer has been brilliant. He has thrown me in and I have been in the team ever since I have been here, so it has gone really well.
"The results haven't been as good as I would have wanted, but I'm staying for another month so, hopefully, we can get a few more wins."
Playing in League One has certainly been an eye-opener for the Dublin-born midfielder.
Clifford said: "It's more up in the air, and more of a battle, than I'm used to, but it has been good to learn a different style of football.
"I think I have dealt with it quite well.
"It was a shock at first, though, because back at Chelsea the reserves is more tippy-tappy, nice football."
Chelsea have closely monitored the progress of Clifford while he has been with Argyle.
Clifford said: "Steve Holland (Chelsea's reserve team boss) and Neil Bath (the academy manager) have been in contact with me a few times.
"They were really happy for me to stay here because I'm playing games and it's good experience for me.
"I have signed for another month and, hopefully, I will do well and we will see what happens then."
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Morten Gamst Pedersen was Ireland's tormentor as Norway came from behind to snatch a late 2-1 victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last night.
The Blackburn midfielder ruined keeper Shay Given's record 109th appearance for Ireland by curling home a superb 34th-minute free-kick to cancel out Shane Long's fifth-minute penalty.
But there was worse to come for Giovanni Trapattoni's men when Pedersen provided the cross from which Erik Huseklepp scored the winner with just four minutes remaining.
Ireland made a flying start Long's fifth minute run on to John O'Shea's through-ball caused the normally redoubtable Brede Hangeland all sorts of problems and prompted him to haul his man to the ground.
Icelandic referee Kristinn Jakobsson immediately pointed to the spot and with Robbie Keane absent, Long took over spot-kick duties and calmly despatched the ball low to goalkeeper Jon Knudsen's right and into the bottom corner.
A Norway side boasting nine of the men who started last month's qualifier victory in Cyprus, a win which maintained their 100% start, was at sixes and sevens in the opening stages, and they might have fallen further behind with 12 minutes gone.
Kevin Doyle's pass was perfectly weighted for Liam Lawrence to drive in a low cross, and although Knudsen palmed the ball just inches out of Long's reach it fell for Damien Duff. His left-foot drive was firm and accurate, but the keeper recovered to kick it off the line.
With 34 minutes gone, Pedersen laid Hangeland's crisp pass off to Thorstein Helstad and Stephen Kelly handled as he slid in in an attempt to regain possession. Pedersen took charge of the resulting free-kick and curled a superb left-foot shot high to Given's right to give Ireland's most-capped international no chance.
The game opened up as time ran down with both sides looking for a winner, and it took a brave block by Glenn Whelan to keep out John Arne Riise's 76th-minute piledriver from getting anywhere near Given.
However, the Manchester City man was beaten for the second time with four minutes remaining when Pedersen's cross left him cruelly exposed and Huseklepp took full advantage at the far post to snatch victory.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Giovanni Trapattoni has named his Ireland starting eleven for Wednesday night's friendly international against Norway at the new Lansdowne Road stadium.
Teenager Greg Cunningham will win his third senior international cap. The 19-year-old Manchester City defender, currently on loan at Leicester, will line up at left-back with manager Trapattoni having little choice but to ring the changes with his squad having been ravaged by injury.
Darren O'Dea, who is currently on loan from Celtic at Ipswich, will partner John O'Shea in central defence with Stephen Kelly on the right, while Liam Lawrence, Keith Fahey, Glenn Whelan and Damien Duff will make up the midfield quartet.
Kevin Doyle, who yesterday underwent a scan on a broken bone on his hand, will be joined by Shane Long in attack with goalkeeper Shay Given wearing the captain's armband.
Ireland 11 to take on Norway
Given (Manchester City); Kelly (Fulham), O'Shea (Manchester United), O'Dea (Ipswich Town), Cunningham (Leicester City); Lawrence (Portsmouth), Fahey (Birmingham City), Whelan (Stoke City), Duff (Fulham), Long (Reading), Doyle (Wolves).
Monday, November 15, 2010
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is likely to give some of his younger players an international start due to the number of senior players who have reported injured ahead of Wednesday's friendly game with Norway in Dublin.
The Irish boss has lost six of the players he initially named for the game and has further doubts over Sean St Ledger, Paul Green and striker Kevin Doyle, who were due to be assessed today.
Captain Robbie Keane is out with an ankle injury, Kevin Kilbane has withdrawn with a back problem and Richard Dunne, Paul McShane and Caleb Folan have varying knee injuries.
In addition, Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson has not reported for the squad due to a family illness.
Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark was named in a revised squad on Friday afternoon, but damaged a calf in the warm-up before Saturday's Premier League draw with Man United and has withdrawn.
As a result, Trapattoni has signalled his intention to have a look at young Everton defender Seamus Coleman, Greg Cunningham, who is currently on loan at Leicester from Manchester City, and Stoke striker Jon Walters. Celtic's Darron O'Dea and Stoke's Marc Wilson are also likely to feature during the game.
Trapattoni, who is awaiting Aiden McGeady's arrival from club duty with Spartak Moscow later today, said: "We are missing many injured players, but it is important in this friendly game to look at other young players.
"The likes of Coleman, Cunningham and Walters, it is very important for them and for us.
"The players, we know, but with us, they can increase in confidence and personality.
"It will be important in the future that these players are available to us."
St Ledger and Green will have scans on knee injuries today, while Doyle will have further examinations on the broken bone in his hand.
Wednesday's game is the first since last month's Euro 2012 double-header, which saw Ireland lose at home to Russia and draw in Slovakia.
However, Trapattoni insists there will be plenty at stake.
He said: "I have said many times in the past, there is no such thing as a friendly game for the national team.
"When players play for their country, when they have that shirt on, they have pride, they must be proud because they are playing for their country."
Friday, November 12, 2010
Ciarán Clark has been called into the Ireland squad for next week's friendly game against Norway at Lansdowne Road. His call up to Trapattoni's senior squad follows a report from FIFA this morning indicating that there is still a chance they may be in a position to consider his application to play for Ireland in time for the match.
Clark, who qualifies for Ireland through his mother and grandparents, opted to play for the 'The Boys In Green' at senior level after talking to club-mate Richard Dunne, who is in line to win his 64th cap against the Norwegians.
The 21 year old Central defender recently agreed a new three-and-a-half year deal with Aston Villa and has put in some impressive performances for Gerard Houllier's side at central defence and also filling in at central midfield.
Robbie Keane, Paul Mc Shane and Caleb Folan are out of the Ireland squad to face Norway on Wednesday in the Aviva Stadium.
Everton's Seamus Coleman has kept his place in the panel and could be set to make his debut with McShane ruled out.
Ireland squad to face Norway:
Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, John O'Shea, Seamus Coleman, Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Greg Cunningham, Kevin Foley, Kevin Kilbane, Stephen Kelly, Darren O'Dea, Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson, Ciaran Clark, Glenn Whelan, Paul Green, Liam Lawrence, Stephen Hunt, Aiden McGeady, Keith Treacy, Damien Duff, Keith Fahey, Jonathan Walters, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long.
Huddersfield Town boss Lee Clark says he is "quietly confident" of keeping Ireland U21 international Graham Carey with the Terriers beyond the January transfer window.
The 21-year-old Dublin born player signed a six-month loan from Celtic in the summer and has started the last 12 straight matches as Town have moved second in League 1.
Clark is a big fan of the Ireland Under 21 international and said recently: "We have been in ongoing dialogue with Neil Lennon and Alan Thompson, who I know very well, and I am very, very hopeful of doing something.
"Graham loves it here, we love having him here and I think he is an exceptional young player.
"He has shown that with the goals he has scored and the ones he's set up, he's got a beautiful left foot and he's a very talented footballer.
"As I've said, we are in constant dialogue with Celtic and, while you can never say 100% until it's done and dusted, the conversations we've had with Celtic have been on a positive note and it's just a matter, really, of clearing things up at board level.
"We want it to happen, that's what I can say, and I'm quietly confident that we can progress things on Graham."
Midfielder Carey signed for Celtic in 2005 from Shelbourne's youth set up. He made his senior Celtic debut as a substitute against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League ion December 2009. He was regularly named as a substitute for Celtic in the SPL 2009–10 season before been loaned out to St Mirren in February 2010.
Carey has been capped for Ireland at every youth level up to U21 level.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Everton boss David Moyes has yet to decide on the best loan move for promising Irish full back Shane Duffy.
Everton recently refused a loan request from League two side Northampton Town for the young central defender and a number of Championship sides including Preston and Leeds United, and League one side Southampton are believed to have approached the Toffee’s looking to take the 18 year old Ireland international on loan.
Preston manager Darren Ferguson has been linked with an approach for Duffy as he looks to shore up his goal-leaking defence, and he attended the Everton reserve game on Monday to monitor Duffy’s progress.
Speaking after last night's defeat to Barnsley, Ferguson said: “I'm hoping to get three bodies in and I will be on the phone all day on Wednesday - the positions will become clear when they are done deals.”
It remains to be seen if Duffy will be joining Ferguson at Deepdale, or if another Championship club is deemed more suitable for Duffy’s continued progress.
Owen Coyle knows all about the threat that Ireland international Séamus Coleman is likely to pose to his Bolton team tonight. Coyle spotted the Irish winger’s potential when he tried to sign him from Sligo Rovers during his time in charge at Burnley.
Killybegs born Coleman maintained his stellar rise in the game last weekend by scoring Everton’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Blackburn, and he continues to earn plaudits for his attacking style and vigour.
“I had Seamus in at Burnley,” said Bolton boss Coyle. “He came in and played a trial game for us and he got injured after 10 minutes and he was unfortunate.
“He caught his knee and was out for four to six weeks but as soon as he was back fit, everybody was talking about this young player. If he’d played the full game and not picked up the injury we probably would have signed him.
“But he went back to Sligo and got himself fit again and by that time there were bigger clubs than ourselves at Burnley looking at him, with Everton being one of them and he moved there.”
Coyle added: “He went about it with such vigour and enthusiasm, I liked him straight away before he’d even played, and you see how he’s evolved at Everton.
“He had a great loan spell at Blackpool and now he’s pushed himself into the Everton first team. David Moyes has been very good with him and very clever with him because he gave him a little sample of the European stuff last year and knew that the Championship with Blackpool would serve him well. He’s been proved right because he’s been terrific.
“He’s getting better and better. He’s a full back but he can play further forward and he’s just an outstanding young player with a real sense of purpose, a real sense of drive and I love that type of player.”
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Robbie Keane has become a doubt for next week’s friendly game against Norway after Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp revealed that the Irish captain is struggling with an ankle injury.
Spurs are waiting on the results of a recent scan which will reveal the seriousness of the damage and It’s another set back for the Irish record goal scorer , given that he was guaranteed some much needed game time in the Dublin friendly clash.
Giovanni Trapattoni said that he was keen to use the Norway friendly to give Keane and goalkeeper Shay Given a good run out, especially considering they are currently out of their club first teams.
“I know he’s not fresh like two or three years ago, but for us now he’s still very important,” said the Irish boss. “It’s important that he plays against Norway. I think now he is not fit because he can only play 10 minutes here and there for Tottenham. But he’s 30, not 34 or 35.”
Keane has only started a couple of games with Spurs this season, and has been hotly tipped for a move away from White Heart Lane in the transfer window in January. Redknapp has acknowledged that the 30-year-old has been very frustrated since the arrival of Rafael van der Vaart pushed him further down the striker pecking order.
His lack of sharpness was evident in last month's Euro qualifiers with Russia and Slovakia, especially in the Slovakia game where he missed a penalty and missed two other decent opportunities in a 1-1 away draw.
Keane is clearly in need of a move away from Spurs and irrespective of his inclusion in the Norway friendly game next week, his priority has to be getting back playing club football on a weekly basis.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed he will blood some of the new Irish talent currently making waves for their club teams in the friendly against Norway at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday week.
Trap included the uncapped trio of Séamus Coleman, Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters in his 27-man preliminary squad for the workout against a side currently leading their Euro 2012 qualifying group ahead of Portugal and Denmark.
With one eye firmly fixed on the European qualifying game against Macedonia in March, Trapattoni admitted the team starting in eleven days' time will be strong but fringe players will get some game time over the ninety minutes.
"This game will be an opportunity for two or three young players like Keith Treacy, Séamus Coleman, Greg Cunningham and also Mark Wilson to face a strong team.
"There needs to be balance in our team between the new, young and senior. We can make six substations plus the goalkeeper during the game.
"A positive result will be good for morale because we felt aggrieved about drawing with Slovakia in the last game.
"We played well and missed a penalty. A win would have kept us top of table with Russia but that is gone and we have to think about the future. That starts with the friendly against Norway.
"They (Norway) haven't many creative players but they are strong, physical and tactical. I have watched them play against Portugal, France and Iceland and they are a strong team.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Giovanni Trapattoni has named his 27 man Ireland squad for the November 17 friendly against Norway at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.
Trap has included three uncapped players in his panel and while he already knows all about the merits of Donegal's Seamus Coleman and Antrim's Marc Wilson, he will get a closer look at Stoke striker Jon Walters for the first time.
Wolves winger Stephen Hunt is back in the squad after returning from a long-term foot injury but there is no place in the squad for his former Wolves teammate Andy Keogh. Damien Duff, Darren O’Dea and Stephen Kelly, who all missed the last two matches through injury, are named in the squad for the match later this month.
Sean St. Ledger
Ireland international striker Shane Long has penned a new contract deal with Reading that will keep him at the club until 2012.
The Tipperary born player was linked with a move to Birmingham City during the summer, but the deal sees the former Cork City star extending his five year stay with the Royals.
Long who scored his first international goal for Ireland in a friendly 1-1 draw against Bolivia in 2007 impressed during last month's European qualifying games with Russia and Slovakia, scoring against Russia in Dublin and putting in a man of the match performance in the 1 -1 draw away to Slovakia.
Royals Manager Brian McDermott said, "I'm delighted Shane has committed to the club by signing a new contract with us.
In this calendar year he has scored 13 goals, more than any other member of our squad, in 2010 he has been a key reason behind our consistent home form, and he continued to make history by scoring twice against Aston Villa in our first FA Cup quarter final for 83 years.
"From a personal point of view, his winner at Anfield in January won us a memorable FA Cup game at Liverpool - a victory I'm sure was instrumental in me getting this job. I am grateful to Shane, as I am to all the players who played a part in that fantastic win.
"People sometimes forget that Shane is still a very young footballer. For a 23-year-old striker, very much still learning his trade in a difficult role, he has done a really good job for us. He is one of our own and I'm very pleased he remains completely committed to Reading Football Club."
Speaking after signing his new Reading deal Long said "I've been at the club a long time and enjoyed every year here. It's nice that the Chairman, manager and club showed faith in me and offered me a new deal. I was delighted to snap it up when I got the chance."
"I enjoy it here, I've been through ups and downs and things are looking on the up since the manager came in. He brought us up from a relegation battle, the club is back on the way up again and it's nice to be part of it."
"This is my sixth season here, I've enjoyed every one and I'm going for a testimonial!"
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Aston Villa are prepared to match bids from Liverpool in an attempt to beat their Premiership rivals to the signing of Preston and Ireland defender Sean St Ledger
Villa scouts have watched the Ireland international regularly while Liverpool assistant boss Sammy Lee has also been keeping a close eye on the progress of 25 year old StLedger over the past month.
St Ledger has recaptured his form and fitness after a difficult past 18 months where he saw a move to Middlesbrough collapse and tentative inquiries from Celtic come to nothing.
However, Preston are struggling to shed their debts and will be willing to listen to offers in January with an asking price of around £4million.
Villa manager Gerard Houllier knows he has an advantage over his former club Liverpool as St Ledger is a Villa fan and has partnered Richard Dunne at international level.
Houllier said: 'If we spot a good international player who can add something, we'll take him. We will have one or two coming in January.'
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Everton boss David Moyes feels the time may now be right to send promising young Irish international Shane Duffy out on loan to gain first team experience.
The Toffees are believed to be willing to allow the Derry born defender to go on loan, although he clearly remains firmly in Moyes plans, having made the bench for the recent Premiership clash with Spurs at White Heart Lane.
No doubt Moyes decision was swayed by the positive impact a loan spell at Blackpool last season had on the development of fellow Irish international Seamus Coleman and feels a similar experience would be hugely beneficial to 18 year old Duffy.
Moyes said: “I'd like to put Shane out on loan. We've been keeping an eye on him at first (since his injury) and keeping him indoors. He's very good in the air though, and could have come on against Crouch (v Tottenham). If we find the right club he could go on loan.”
Duffy has been progressing well since his return from the serious injury he sustained in an Irish training game accident back in May.
Everton recently refused a loan request from League two side Northampton Town for the young central defender and he is likely to be on the radar of a host of clubs looking to take the player on loan, now that the Toffee’s boss has decided he has recuperated enough from his horror injury.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Ireland international David Meyler makes an ‘ahead of schedule’ return to competitive action when he gets a first real run-out for Sunderland Reserves tonight.
The Cork born Under 21 international has been sidelined since May when he ruptured knee ligaments in Sunderland's last home game of the season against Manchester United.
The very promising Irish midfielder twisted studs in the turf and damaged ligaments so badly that it was thought at one point, that the whole of this season could be spent recovering from the serious injury .
However, the earliest it was realistically thought he could be back playing football was the end of December, but he has astonished medical staff with the speed of his recovery, and after successfully coming through a behind-closed-doors game last week, is due to face Liverpool's second string
Meyler, 20, who was signed by Steve Bruce's predecessor Roy Keane from Cork City in 2008, started seven games for Sunderland last season prior to the injury, making his debut at the end of December.
He immediately caught the eye of manager Steve Bruce for his huge work rate during games. The Black Cats boss admitted he was stunned when the ProZone stats showed the volume of ground being covered by Meyler during a game, even surpassing that of Premiership marathon man, Cesc Fabregas. Bruce Said: “The lad’s miles above everyone else. He got through 13-and-a-half kilometres against City, which is phenomenal”.
The timing of Meyler’s injury could also not have been worse for the young player, as he had just been selected by Giovanni Trapattoni to take part in a senior Ireland training camp, which was due to take place the week after he sustained the ligament injury in May.
Sunderland will be keen not rush Meyler back too early, but the likelihood is, he will be back challenging for a Sunderland place after Christmas. He will also be keeping a close eye on his Ireland international chances, with a fit Meyler likely to be pushing for a squad place in the upcoming Carling Nation’s Cup competition, which starts in February against Wales in Dublin.