Hunt targets Irish call-up

Aidan Fitzmaurice

ONLY one club game left this season to try and impress Giovanni Trapattoni, but Premier League-bound Irish striker Noel Hunt said he won't give up on his dream of winning back his place in the Ireland squad.

Hunt and his Reading team-mates can relax and enjoy the last day of the Championship season, as not only have they won promotion to the Premier League, they also landed the Championship title, earning Hunt his first major medal.

International football has eluded Hunt as the 29-year-old has not been capped since he started - in the same XI as his brother Stephen - in a World Cup qualifier at home to Montenegro in October 2009. "I am just waiting for a chance to get back in there and knock on the door," Hunt said.

"I was in the squad before but, after that, I was out for a year with a knee injury, and since then a couple of other players have come in, done well and stayed in the squad.

"I'd love to make it into the squad for the Euros with Stephen, I know he will be flying for the Euros after his recent injury. Even if I don't get picked, I will be watching the boys and cheering them on. Me and the manager (Trapattoni) get on great, I got on great with Marco (Tardelli) too and I learned a lot off them. The Ireland squad was a great environment to be in and I learned a lot off them.

"I don't know if the Ireland manager or anyone from the FAI has been in the stands watching our games, I was just focused on the football for the last few games.

"Maybe he was there but I wouldn't have heard," added Hunt, who played a big part in Reading's success of winning promotion by scoring eight goals.

"I've had a good season, I scored a good few goals but I think I had 13 assists as well, which is great. It wasn't all about the goals for me, it was a case of helping the team as well.

"I am playing in a role different from what I am used to, playing deeper in behind the striker so I can put pressure on their midfield when they have the ball and help our striker as well," added Hunt, who says that playing in the top flight will not worry the Reading squad.

"Our record against Premier League clubs is very good over the last while. Last season, we were beaten very narrowly by Manchester City at their place, we beat Everton and Liverpool. There's not much of a gap between the top two in the Championship and the bottom four in the Premier League.

"It was a great season for us. For us to go up as champions we needed to go on an unbelievable run, but we did it.

"Earlier in the season, we were really struggling. At one stage, we'd lost four in a row.

"We went to play Doncaster knowing we'd go bottom if we lost, so we had a team meeting. We beat Doncaster and then went on a great run."