Doyle sees green shoots of optimism in fresh injection of new blood

Aidan Fitzmaurice

WITH 51 caps on his CV and the captain’s armband on his arm, there’s no doubting that Kevin Doyle is officially one of the old stagers in the Ireland squad.

And the Wolves striker, who captains Ireland for the second time in his career in tonight’s friendly against Oman in London, says he’s excited by the arrival of fresh faces and new blood in the Irish squad.

Trapattoni has already guaranteed that two players will make their senior Ireland debuts tonight, with David Meyler and Robbie Brady named in the starting XI while two of the three uncapped subs – Alex Pearce, Stephen Henderson and Darren Randolph – are also likely to make their debuts, Randolph likely to get a run when David Forde is substituted at some stage tonight.

It means more responsibility for senior players like Doyle (51 caps), Stephen Kelly (30 caps) and Paul McShane (28 caps) but Doyle says he’s been impressed by the new faces.

“Robbie has settled straight in,” says Doyle of the Dublin-born Manchester United man.

“I haven’t played with him before, just heard about his reputation and it’s pretty impressive. Everyone says that he’s a future star and he’s getting his chance now, he’s top scorer with the U21s, he broke that record.

“I only trained with him once but he settled right in, there was no shyness at all from him, he didn’t sit back and say nothing but he was right in at the middle of things.

“I have never played against David Meyler or met him, I just knew him to say hello to, and it’s nice to see him in the squad.

“He’s been impressive in training and I hope he does well tonight. He’s a good lad and it’s nice to see another ex-Cork City player in the squad,” added Doyle, who was also impressed with Meyler’s story of recover from two serious knee injuries.

“He was just telling me about two cruciates on the same knee. I have never had a serious injury like that and I can’t imagine what it would be like.

"Never mind physically but mentally trying to come back, to get back to this level two years after he was last selected for the squad shows what he is about, apart from his football skills, and shows that he will have no problem in dealing with what comes his way in the Ireland team.”


And Doyle feels the same way about Pearce, a former team-mate at Reading. “Alex was just getting involved in the first team when I was there,” says Doyle.

“He’s a good defender, probably a more traditional centre-half. When I used to play with him he’d kick the shins off me. You could ask Longy the same thing. Alex wasn’t afraid to put himself about and he was only 18 at the time. He will have no problem in settling in.”

Most of those who took part in the game in Astana last week will not be involved in Craven Cottage tonight but as one of the survivors, Doyle says he has given the Kazakhstan game more thought.

“We could have played better but to win the game in the last five minutes shows fantastic spirit.

“It doesn’t matter if you score in the first or the last minute, there are 90 minutes in a game for a reason. We spoke about it on the plane on the way home. The conditions, the pitch, the team: Kazakhstan are not as bad as they are ranked and they will cause the other teams in the group a lot of trouble in the games ahead.

“It will be something similar to Armenia in the last group. We won 1-0 away to them and got criticised for our performance but it turned out to be a very good one in the end as they took points off other teams.”