Saturday, January 28, 2012

Keane guidance having Villa impact

Ireland striker Robbie Keane has already become Aston Villa’s in-game gaffer by shouting out pitch instructions to his short-term colleagues.

Keane has ingratiated himself to team-mates and fans alike with his brilliant double in the 3-2 victory at Wolves last Weekend and it capped an amazing full Villa start for the 31-year-old Irish captain who is currently on loan from LA Galaxy.

And Villa player Marc Albrighton has revealed that the record Irish striker’s guidance has been just as important as his goals.

“I was watching Goals on Sunday the day after the Wolves match and it was interesting to listen to Chris Kamara’s comments about Keano,” said Albrighton.

“He made the point that Keano was almost performing a manager’s role on the pitch with the other lads.

“He was telling everyone where to go and where to pass it. That’s something he’s definitely bringing to the side.

“If he can keep doing that and keep banging in the goals, we’ll all be delighted.

“He’s not only a great person to play with he’s also a nice guy to have around the place too.

“The young boys look up to him and know they can learn from him. To be training with a player with the wealth of experience like Keano is just brilliant.”

Albrighton believes all of Villa’s attacking players will benefit greatly from playing alongside Keane before his loan spell ends at the end of February.

“Robbie thinks one step ahead of everyone else,” said Albrighton.

“Not only does he see the pass before everyone else, he has the ability to execute it too

“He’s never played really as a target man, as such, he drops off into gaps and little pockets of space and he can punish people from finding these areas.

“He has the ability to thread the balls through to people like Benty, Gabby, Charles and myself and if he doesn’t do that and decides to shoot instead, we’ve all seen what happens then!

“He can only help our team and he certainly did that on Saturday.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moyes praise for Shane Duffy performance

Everton Boss David Moyes has praised the maturity of Ireland U21 International Shane Duffy after his home Premier League debut at Goodison Park yesterday against Blackburn.

Speaking after the 1-1 draw Moyes said “Shane Duffy had a terrific game. He was arguably our best player today and he’s a young boy; we just needed a lot more in every department.”

Derry born Duffy has now played in the last three Everton games, standing in for the injured Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, and after solid showings at Spurs and Aston Villa the 20 year old centre-back ran out at Goodison Park for the first time in a league game and left the stadium with the man of the match award.

Duffy looked totally composed at the heart of the 'Toffees' backline and already seems to have built up a good understanding with fellow centre-back John Heitinga. He was defensively solid and was always a threat from set pieces. He was unlucky not to have given Everton the three points when he struck the bar with a late header.

And David Moyes was delighted at the way the youngster has stepped up to the mark in such a crucial role for the side.

"Duffy has played really well in the games," Moyes told evertontv. "He has been steady and looked mature in the games he has played.

"It is not easy for a young centre-half to play in the Premier League and we have tried to keep his game steady and simple and he has done well."

Duffy spent the first half of the season on loan at Scunthorpe before his call back to the Toffees, and impressed all at Glanford Park including Iron boss Alan Knill who was keen to retain the services of the Derry man for the remainder of the season.

Earlier this week Shane Duffy set himself a target of saving David Moyes a fortune in the transfer market and if recent performances are anything to go by, he may well do just that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ireland to play Czech Republic on Feb 29th

The FAI today officially confirmed that Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland will play the Czech Republic in a friendly in Dublin on February 29.

They said the friendly will be the first of two home matches to be played in the Aviva Stadium before Ireland go to the Euro Finals in June. The second friendly will take place at the end of May and the opposition will be revealed by the association soon.

The Czech's will provide a strong test for a confident Ireland side and the squad announcement should shed some light on the probable make-up of the final 23 man squad for Euro 2012.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

O'Shea praise for James McClean impact

Sunderland's experienced Ireland international defender John O'Shea has spoken of the positive impact James McClean has had on the team since emerging on to the scene as a substitute in the 2-1 win over Blackburn on December 11. McClean’s impact has gradually increased and he has started in each of Sunderland’s last three games.

The Derry born left winger who has expressed a desire in joining O'Shea in the green of Ireland in the near future, has taken the Premiership by storm with his impressive wing play and strength on the ball. And McClean's chances of a call-up by Trapattoni received a boost yesterday when Trap commented "We have time, one month, two months before we will write the list of players. We are considering him, 100%. We just don't want to put him under pressure. That is important for him, he's 22-year old"

Speaking ahead of Sunderland's trip to Stamford Bridge for the Premiership clash with Chelsea O'Shea said “James has put in a number of brilliant performances and he’s done it all off his own back.

“No one has had to guide him through and already after a few games he looks like he can develop into a great player and be an important part of the squad.

“He causes so many problems for the opposition. He’s quick, he’s strong and he’s got a lot to his game. He gets into great positions and he’s been rewarded for that with the goals he’s scored.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Darron Gibson completes Everton move

Everton have completed the signing of Irish international midfielder Darron Gibson from Manchester United for an undisclosed fee.

The 24-year-old Derry born international joins on a four-and-a-half year deal and will wear the number 4 shirt.

Gibson, whose last appearance for United came in a 5-0 win over Wigan on Boxing Day, will arrive at Finch Farm immediately and could make his debut when the Blues take on Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday.

A product of Manchester United's youth system, Gibson broke through the ranks during the 2005/06 campaign and has since made 60 appearances, scoring 10 goals - many spectacular efforts from long range.

Last season he scored in the Red Devils’ Champions League semi-final defeat of German outfit Schalke, just over a year after another strike helped Sir Alex Ferguson's men overcome giants Bayern Munich in the last eight of the same competition.

Gibson has made seventeen international appearances for Trapattoni’s ‘Boys In Green’ and a move away from Old Trafford was essential for the player, as regular football is a must if he is to feature in the squad for the upcoming European finals in Poland in June.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Northern born players committed to Ireland's cause

Despite the recent bold pronouncements by new NI boss Michael O’Neill regarding his intention to stop players from the North opting to play for Ireland rather than his IFA team, it would seem, going by player statements in the past week, that his misguided mission is likely to continue falling on deaf-ears with players and supporters alike.

Last Week Derry born Sunderland wonder-winger James McClean again reiterated his intention to seek selection to Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland squad. "I have declared myself for the Republic and that's where I see my international future. If I don't get called up, then I'll live with that but I have confidence in my own ability that I will get a call-up at some stage with the Republic of Ireland”.

"I can only imagine what it would be like to play for Ireland at a tournament like that. I remember the last time they were at a finals, in 2002, everyone in Derry was watching the team then, and for me to make the squad would be unbelievable”.

Today Marc Wilson, the Stoke City midfielder from Aghagallon in County Antrim said on the Stoke website "I have always seen myself as a Republic of Ireland player. I supported them when I was growing up and if I have to continue to bide my time and wait for my chance to come along, I am happy to do that."

Wilson has represented Ireland at u19, u21 and senior level, although he has yet to play in a competitive senior international for Trapattoni.

He added: "I would love to play for them, though, one day and I have made that clear before a number of times. Hopefully, my time will come in the future. I would love to try to be part of the squad for the European finals, but if that doesn't happen, then I will keep working hard here at Stoke and try to earn a spot in the Ireland team."

"I made the decision a few years ago (to represent Ireland) without having my head turned by anybody, and I am sticking by that. It is something I am comfortable with."

And following on from McClean & Wilson’s statements of commitment to the Irish cause, Shane Duffy the Derry born Ireland U21 international has also reiterated his desire to one day make the grade for Trap’s senior squad.

Speaking in the Irish Mail on Sunday last weekend Duffy said “ When I was a young lad growing up all I ever wanted to do was play for Ireland, nothing else. My heroes were Paul McGrath, Roy Keane and Robbie Keane. Nobody from Ireland ever got in touch with me when I was younger. I was part of the NI squad, but when Liam Brady phoned me up to ask me to play for Ireland there was never a chance I was going to say no”

Perhaps the time is now right for Michael O’Neill and the IFA to concentrate on players who feel some affiliation or bond to Northern Ireland, rather than continually attempting to disrupt the international ambitions of Irish players born in the North, who are simply following their childhood dream of pulling on an Ireland shirt and representing their nation at the Aviva Stadium.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

St Ledger on the verge of Ipswich move

Ipswich boss Paul Jewell is hopeful of signing Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger after agreeing a fee as well as personal terms with the player.

But Jewell says the 27-year-old Irish international, who has made eight league starts this term, has a number of offers to consider.

"Everything's agreed between the two clubs and with the player's personal terms," he told BBC Radio Suffolk.

"I spoke to him on Monday. He has got a few options. Hopefully he will choose us. But we're waiting on an answer."

St Ledger agreed a three-year deal with the Foxes when he joined from Preston in the summer.

But he has failed to establish himself as a regular first-choice centre-half at the King Power Stadium and, with the European Championships this year, he will be keen to remain in the thinking of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

"I spoke to him at length over the weekend," Jewell added. "He just wants to make sure he makes the right decision because there are a few teams in for him.

"Hopefully we'll sell Ipswich as a long-term plan rather than a short-term option."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Simon Cox keen to secure starting birth for club and country

Ireland international Simon Cox fired West Brom into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a hat-trick against Cardiff this afternoon.

Cox headed his first home from eight yards after a cross from Baggies captain Nicky Shorey. He doubled his tally in the 61st minute with a scorcher from 25 yards that gave Heaton no chance as it crossed the line after rattling off his post, and he sealed his hat-trick with an easy tap in from an Odemwingie pass.

The Irish striker has recently hinted that he may have to move on during the January transfer window after finding first-team football hard to come by this season.

Cox is very aware that he needs to playing every week if he's to secure a squad spot in Giovanni Trapattoni's European finals squad, and with just two Premier League starts this season he feels a move away from the the Hawthorns may be his best chance of guaranteeing a trip to Poland in June.

Speaking after the game Baggies boss Roy Hodgson said :

"That's a positive for Simon who has taken his chance when it has come along.

"I thought he did very well at Tottenham the other night as well, so with his three goals and his performance today, it's a clear positive for us and for him.

"The way he played today, he clearly showed he deserves a place in the team, and we'll be thinking very seriously about that.

"Simon's a good trainer, good finisher. In the finishing practices he is always right up there, so he has to be pleased with his day's work.

"I'm pleased for him, pleased he's shown he is a Premier League quality player and that he has taken his chance after being given it with great aplomb.

"On both occasions he has been amongst our best players."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Robbie Brady to remain with Hull for remainder of campaign

Manchester United and Ireland U21 international winger Robbie Brady will stay at Hull City until the end of the season.

The 19-year-old Dublin born player has scored one goal from 22 appearances since joining Hull on loan at the start of the season.

Tigers caretaker boss Nick Barmby said: "We've got a great platform for him to really kick on now.

"We spoke to [Manchester United] direct and the manager's been different class with us and hopefully that relationship will continue."

Brady is set to play for the Tigers in the FA Cup tie against Ipswich Town.

The former St.Kevin's Boys winger will now spend the remainder of the 2011/12 campaign with the Tigers and will hope to play a leading role in their promotion push.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Clark looking to secure Euro squad place

Ireland international Ciarán Clark admits he has to keep his Aston Villa spot if he is to secure a place in Ireland's 23 man squad for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland.

Clark, who can play in central defence or midfield, has recently regained his Villa spot in a holding midfield role.

He is desperate to be part of the Irish squad in Poland and knows he has to impress Trapattoni at club level during the second half of Villa's Premiership campaign.

Clark who gained his first international call up in November 2010 against Norway said: "I'd like to keep getting into the Villa team because that is the only way I am going to get into the team to make the European Championships in the summer.

"I know if I play games then I will hopefully get a chance to go.

"It would be a massive experience for me to go to Euro 2012 but I haven't been picked in the last few squads.

"I hadn't really been playing for Villa but, now I'm getting a few games, it would be nice to think I've got a chance for the summer..

"I won't give up on it and hopefully I'll show I'm good enough."

Monday, January 2, 2012

McClean hungry for more game time

There was hardly a better way for Derry born James McClean to mark his first start for Sunderland as Ji Dong-won scored a last-minute winner against Manchester City.

The 22-year-old Irish flyer starred on the left wing for Sunderland, who recorded their third win in five games thanks to Dong-won's 93rd-minute goal.

"There was jubilation after Ji's goal - the whole place just erupted," said McClean, who joined Sunderland from Derry City last summer.

"To put in a performance like that against one of the best teams in the country and come away with the win, the team deserve huge credit.

"The fans are brilliant - they created a great atmosphere in the stadium."

He explained: "We put a lot into the game, some of the lads were out on their feet, including myself - that just shows great determination and character for us to break forward and manage to come away with the win.

"It was a tough game, we stayed disciplined and kept our shape throughout the game and we got in their faces and it paid off."

Now the winger is hoping he's impressed manager Martin O'Neill sufficiently to ensure another start against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium tomorrow night.

He says his full debut is a huge boost and is relishing the chance to drive home his claim for a regular starting spot.

"I've had a few run-outs lately and the manager knew I was hungry for it so it was delighted when I found out I'd be starting," McClean explained.

"Hopefully I can to push on and get more starts now."

McClean, who recently stated that it would be a dream to represent Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland side, will have done his future international prospects no harm with some eye-catching Sunderland performances in recent weeks.