Bonner backing Randolph despite club woes
Packie Bonner is relaxed about Darren Randolph's West Ham woe with a view to Ireland's summer internationals and is more worried about problems at the other end of the pitch.
Ireland number one Randolph lost his place with his club after a couple of high-profile errors, but Bonner is sure that he remains the right man to steer Ireland through the June 11 World Cup qualifier with Austria.
He thinks that the player can use the preceding friendlies with Mexico and Uruguay to build confidence if necessary, believing that the 30-year-old has a body of recent work that should remove any fears about an impact on his confidence.
"I think Darren has done really well," said Bonner yesterday. "He handled the European Championships well and what I liked about him is that he was really alert, he got into the line of the ball very quickly. If I had to talk about Darren five years previously, when he was at Motherwell or at Charlton, then I would have said he needed to get his fitness levels up and to get sharper. I think he's stepped up.
"I think we're in a really good position now. He was left out of the West Ham team, which was a wee bit disappointing for him, but the pressure is so much on these teams now. If you make one or two mistakes you are out. In our day, you could make ten mistakes and you were still there. That's changed.
"He'll have time with the Ireland squad, two weeks together. He knows what it takes to play at that level and I think he's old enough now to handle all of that. He's in a different position now than he was three years ago - that's for sure. People will come looking for him (if he remains on sidelines at West Ham)."
Rob Elliot and Keiren Westwood are the leading alternatives with the former back fit and contributing to the end of Newcastle's promotion challenge and the latter starring for Sheffield Wednesday who meet Huddersfield in their play-off semi final second leg tonight.
As a former incumbent of the role, Bonner is quite satisfied with Ireland's lot post-Shay Given and it's the striking situation that troubles him.
"We haven't got Robbie Keane who was an out-and-out goalscorer," he continued. "The rest are much of a muchness. Now we have to look at midfielders, guys like James McClean, are scoring goals so we've to move it around."
One player he would like to see get a run is Aberdeen's Adam Rooney, a player he watches regularly in his work as a TV pundit in Scotland. However, he wonders if the Dubliner falls between two stools in terms of what Martin O'Neill is looking for.
"Adam is not quite 6' 2'' - he's not Daryl Murphy and maybe that's what Martin is looking at also. And he's not the quickest either..
"What he can do is get himself into really good areas to score goals and Aberdeen are about getting the ball wide and into the box. He's done well at that level. Now can he step up to the next one?
"He's good in the air and has a nose for the goal by getting himself into good areas, so he needs good delivery. I would certainly give him a chance from what I've seen."
- Packie Bonner was speaking at the launch of the 'Don't ignore the red' campaign to raise awareness of bladder cancer in association with the Marie Keating Foundation