Saturday 21 October 2017

Foley sticks to his guns on Irish exile

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

KEVIN FOLEY is not planning to return to the Irish fold for next month's friendly with Greece, but Wes Hoolahan is set for an international recall.

Wolves defender Foley felt betrayed by Giovanni Trapattoni when he was cut from the Euro 2012 squad at the last minute and subsequently refused an invitation for the August meeting with Serbia, making it clear that he was taking a break from Irish duty.

There was speculation yesterday that Foley had put his dispute with the Italian behind him, with the confusion arising from an answer he gave in an interview with the club's match programme.

"I am over the disappointment of what happened with the Euros and am looking forward," he said.

That was interpreted as a hint that he was ready to make himself available for Ireland again. However, sources close to the player say that "nothing has changed" with regard to his international situation.

Foley, who turns 28 tomorrow, is unlikely to return to the set-up while Trapattoni remains in charge.

Darron Gibson also made the decision to step away in the wake of his Euros disappointment. The Everton midfielder is currently sidelined with an injury, so his exile is set to continue into the new year.

included

Trapattoni will name his squad for the Greece game this afternoon, with strong indications that Norwich star Hoolahan will be included.

The 30-year-old has shone over the past month and produced a five-star show against Arsenal with Trapattoni in attendance.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton has admitted to changing his tactics to accommodate Wes Hoolahan.

The former Shelbourne favourtie, who learned his football at Belvedere, has been an integral part of the first team since he moved to Carrow Road from Blackpool in 2008.

He played a key role in last season's 12th-placed finish but didn't figure in Hughton's starting line-up at the start of the season.

However, Hughton has revealed he has always appreciated Hoolahan's ability and that opinion has not changed in the first four months of his tenure as Norwich boss.

"My view of Wes hasn't changed. Before I came here I knew he was a good, influential player," said the former Irish international.

"Wes is a very good player. He was a good player before I came here. So he's certainly not going to become a bad player overnight."

Hughton claimed that the formation he introduced when he first took over the Canaries did not suit Hoolahan.

"There's no doubt that Wes is best used in a central position because he's somebody you need to get on the ball," he said.

"In pre-season and perhaps at the start of the season, I was looking more at playing two strikers. It's always a bit more difficult to fit him into that."

Hoolahan won his only Irish cap at the beginning of Trapattoni's tenure against Colombia back in May 2008, and was out of the picture until August when injury prevented him from accepting a late SOS for the Serbia game.

His Norwich team-mate Anthony Pilkington is also featuring in Trapattoni's thoughts.

Injuries will determine other aspects of the Italian's selection. Sean St Ledger is making good progress from a hamstring injury and is confident of his prospects, but Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark is a doubt as he battles back from a knee problem that has halted his progress.

Fulham's Stephen Kelly had a disagreement with management before the trip to the Faroe Islands a fortnight ago, and it will be interesting to find out if he retains his place in the squad.

Marc Wilson's broken fibula has weakened the defensive options, so Reading's Alex Pearce should come into contention.

Squad issues aside, there will be plenty for Trapattoni to discuss as he speaks for the first time on the dramatic developments that followed the Faroes game which kept him in his job.

Irish Independent

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