Monday, February 27, 2012

McGeady urges Derry duo to seize their opportunity

Ireland winger Aiden McGeady has urged Derry duo Shane Duffy and James McClean to take their chance this week to impress Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

Duffy and McClean were not in Trapattoni's original squad for the Czech Republic friendly, but are now in line to make their international debuts on Wednesday night at Lansdowne Road.

A combination of Richard Dunne's shoulder injury and impressive defensive displays for Everton in recent months has seen Duffy return to the senior international set-up.

This week will be the 20-year-old centre-back's first opportunity with the senior squad since he ruptured his hepatic artery in a training match in May 2010 and Trapattoni said yesterday that Duffy is likely to feature at some point during the Czech Republic friendly.

Fellow Derry man McClean was added to the squad last week and Trap will be hoping to see some of his impressive recent club displays for Sunderland transfer to the international stage.

"This is the last real game before the Euros it is a big chance for everyone to impress and get in the manager's final squad selection," said McGeady.

"I was actually with James coming back in the car from the airport. We just spoke briefly. The two boys came in today for the first training session. The two of them done well and will be good additions to the squad.

"You have got the chance to impress the manager in training, but game time is when it really counts. It is up to them and it is a great opportunity for them."

The Russian season does not start until the 5th of March, so McGeady's pre-season training has meant he has seen little of McClean's rapid progress in the Premiership.

McGeady said: "The last month or so I have been everywhere in training camps. I have not seen much football. I have seen bits here and there.

"From what I know he has been performing well and he looks a really good prospect. Direct and pacey.

"He looks as if he has got a good cross on him as well and a knack of scoring goals. He has been doing really well. He's obviously worthy of his call-up."

With Trapattoni saying that McClean could play on either wing, the Sunderland man's inclusion could be seen to be competition for McGeady.

However, the former Celtic midfielder welcomes any contest for his starting place and feels it can only benefit the team.

"It is the same at club level. There are always players vying for the same position," McGeady said.

"Of course if there is somebody who is going to take your place, then you up your game. I try to up my game anyway, but obviously if I do people will say it is down to someone breathing down my neck.

"The more players you have got playing at the top of their game, playing in the Premiership, then of course it is going to be healthy for the squad."

With just over three months to Ireland's opening game in Euro 2012 McGeady freely admits that the excitement of playing in his first major tournament is leading to a few restless night's.

"I wake up at night dreaming about it just," he laughed.

"You just want to get to a major finals. Now we have to make sure we stay fit and give ourselves the best possible chance to shine at the Euros.

"Everyone is absolutely buzzing for it and still on a high from last November. We are looking forward to the initial gathering at the end of May and then the championships themselves. It is going to be fantastic.

"We weren't expected to qualify and we did, but now we are there we are going to do everything we can to get out of the group. We are in a very tough group.

"Our record has been good against Italy over the last few years. We played [Croatia] not so long ago and we drew 0-0.

"Spain are obviously the favourites to win the whole competition. But it is not totally unrealistic for us to get out of the group. We have a good set of players and we are due a place in the tournament. We'll see what happens. We'll give ourselves every chance."