O'Dea sees his future in England as he prepares for Czech date
WITH his Celtic hat on, Darren O'Dea is quite enjoying Rangers' current struggles, but the Dubliner doesn't expect to wear a Celtic shirt again.
The central defender, who starts tonight's game with the Czech Republic due to Richard Dunne's absence, is currently on loan at Leeds and has enjoyed regular football at Championship level so much that he has decided his future lies in England.
He may stay at Leeds, too, although a change of management and the arrival of Neil Warnock means he must prove his ability to the new boss. But after spending his formative years with the Glasgow club, O'Dea is untroubled by the financial problems suffered by their Old Firm rivals.
"I need to be politically correct here," he says. "I only look from a Celtic point of view and it's fantastic."
When his audience laughs, he checks himself.
"It's not to do with the Rangers thing," he continues. "But Celtic were going to win the league either way. Hands down they were going to win the league. I think the curtains closed when (Nikica) Jelavic left Rangers for Everton.
"It's a tough time for Rangers, but Celtic can only look after themselves and what they've done."
O'Dea knows there is a sense of having to look after himself tonight with a view to cementing his place in Trapattoni's squad for Poland.
He is confident of his chances once he stays in the side at Leeds, with his confidence boosted by a good 2011 that was rewarded on Sunday night when he was named Young Player of the Year.
Sean St Ledger will partner O'Dea in this game, and the pair have good memories of their partnership after manning the defence in the 2-0 friendly win over Italy in Liege last June.
Nights like that fuel O'Dea's belief in his summer plans and, while Paul McShane was omitted from this squad, the 25-year-old expected the call.
"No, I wasn't worried because the previous games I've played in I've done well. I'm playing every week and I am doing well for my country, so I wasn't worried. But if that was to change (club action), I would get worried.
* IRISH scouts will watch the three other countries in Euro 2012 Group C this evening. All play home friendlies.
ITALY host Jurgen Klinsmann's United States side in Genoa. SPAIN welcome Venezuela to Malaga, while CROATIA take on Sweden in Zagreb.
The Croats wanted to play the Swedes because coach Slaven Bilic feels they have a similar style to Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland. That match could prove the most informative.