Harry Arter hopeful about Ireland's World Cup chances
Published 13/11/2016 | 14:46
Harry Arter is hoping the Republic of Ireland have finished off Austria's World Cup qualification hopes to reduce the field in the Group D race for Russia.
Saturday night's 1-0 victory in Vienna left the Republic two points clear at the top of the group and the Austrians trailing in their wake with only a single win and a draw from their opening four fixtures.
Given that the group looked likely to be a four-way scrap between Ireland, Austria, Wales and Serbia when it was drawn, a six-point gap to the Irish even at this stage represents a yawning chasm for Marcel Koller's men, and while Ireland counterpart Martin O'Neill has predicted that they will bounce back, Arter is keeping his fingers crossed that they are in trouble.
He said: "We didn't have a great record here - in fact it was a very poor record, so it's good to come here and get a result.
"It puts us in a great position, and them in a lot of trouble for the rest of the qualifying campaign.
"You looked at the group and you probably would have viewed them as one of the favourites, so it's great to come here and take three points. That's backed up a few good results before this game, so everything's looking good at the moment."
Ireland went into the game having won only twice in 14 previous meetings with Austria, the last of them in 1963, and having never beaten them on their travels.
However, they built upon early resilience to snatch a 48th-minute lead through James McClean's strike and held out to take their points tally to 10 from a possible 12 ahead of March's crunch meeting with Wales in Dublin.
While there was celebration at the Ernst Happel Stadium, there was a studious effort too to avoid any sense of triumphalism with their own late run to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals still fresh in Irish memories.
But there was also satisfaction that the win had been achieved without a raft of key men, Stephen Ward, James McCarthy, Shane Long and Daryl Murphy among them, a sign of the growing depth of O'Neill's squad.
McCarthy's absence prompted the manager belatedly to hand Bournemouth midfielder Arter a competitive debut - he won the first of his four caps in a friendly against England in June last year - and the 26-year-old did not let him down.
Asked if his selection was a demonstration of the manager's trust in him, he replied: "Yes. I suppose I always thought that was part of the reason that I hadn't played so much in the past.
"I had to just keep on working hard with Bournemouth and I'm really grateful that he has given me my chance. Thankfully we got a positive result and hopefully he was happy."
He will now hope to keep his place for the clash with Gareth Bale and company, although McCarthy, proving relations with Everton boss Ronald Koeman are a little more cordial, and Glenn Whelan, who limped off during the first half in Vienna, could once again stand in his way.
Arter said: "There are another four months to go before that game, a lot of football to be played for me between now and then.
"All of us have club games and I personally I feel that's where the manager will pick you from. But obviously it's good to be part of a team that has won.
"It won't do me any harm, but I've four months ahead with Bournemouth and hopefully I can keep doing well."