Tuesday 27 June 2017

Thanks but no thanks

Lawrence hits out at ‘Plastic Paddies’ Pennant and O’Hara

Liam Lawrence in reflective mood after making some forthright comments during yesterday's press conference ahead of the EURO 2012 Championship qualifier against Macedonia. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile
Liam Lawrence in reflective mood after making some forthright comments during yesterday's press conference ahead of the EURO 2012 Championship qualifier against Macedonia. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Liam Lawrence has revealed that members of the Irish squad are unhappy with public statements from players like Jermaine Pennant and Jamie O'Hara, who have openly stated that they might declare for Ireland if they don't realise their English ambitions.

The Nottinghamshire-born midfielder says he was always clear about his own intentions, and never juggled his options like Pennant and O'Hara.

Recent comments from the duo haven't gone down well in the Irish dressing room.

Pennant's flirtation with an Irish conversion has drawn particular derision, considering that it's still unclear if he actually qualifies through a grandparent due to his slightly complicated family history. A change in FIFA rules in 2009 allowed players to switch from one country to another once they hadn't lined out in a senior competitive international.

"He is a good player," said Lawrence, when asked about Pennant.

"The only thing I know upsets us is when people are trying to juggle between England and Ireland. That's the only issue really. And it is not just me saying that.

"It doesn't look good, does it? You know, for an Irishman to say that. I think Glenn (Whelan) has given him some stick already."

He elaborated further when it was put to him that similar comments from O'Hara would have caused disquiet. "We don't dislike these people. It is just some of the comments they come out with when they're saying they are juggling between Ireland and England -- you just don't do it, do you?"

The 29-year-old, who may have to settle for a place on the bench in Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia, was also quite forthright in his views about Ireland's preferred formation, hinting that manager Giovanni Trapattoni needs to be more flexible in future after a sobering experience against Russia last October.

Lawrence conceded he was poor in that game, but believes that 4-4-2 will not work in future against crack teams who operate with three central midfielders.

"You just get outnumbered," he said, "The Russia game was a prime example. For the first 50 minutes, we played

4-4-2 and got the runaround. When we changed, we nearly got back in the game.

"Even at Portsmouth this year, we played 4-4-2 and every team we came up against seemed to be able to counter it. We were getting beaten by teams that weren't as good as us, due to the formation."

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