GUS Poyet was today planning the overthrow of Liverpool in tonight's Carling Cup tie, but the highly rated coach of in-form Championship side Brighton has another long-term goal – picking Brighton's Dublin-born midfielder Gary Dicker in an Ireland team.
Poyet and his Brighton side have been the surprise package of the Championship this season as the Seagulls, only promoted from League One at the end of last season, lie third in the table, while they also knocked Sunderland out of the Carling Cup, and former Cherry Orchard man Dicker is a key part of that success.
Dicker, 25, is likely to miss tonight's Carling Cup tie at home to Liverpool because of an ankle injury, a double blow to the player as he's a Liverpool fan, while a 30-strong contingent of family and friends have travelled from Dublin to Brighton for tonight's game.
It would of course be compensation for his own fan club to see Dicker – capped six times at U21 level in 2006 – win a senior cap some day and that's something he's spoken about with his Uruguayan-born manager.
“I've had a chat with Gus about the whole Ireland thing. He told me he'd like to manage an international team some day and that Ireland could fit the bill for him, so maybe I'd get to play for him,” says Dicker, who used a break from club duties earlier this month to come home to Dublin and watch the qualifier at home to Slovakia.
“He was very interested in Ireland, how they play, who they have in midfield, so he might fancy the job some day.
“He's played at the highest level internationally, World Cups and Copa America and what have you, and he'd love to see me get a chance with the international team.
“He has told me to keep faith and not give up hope. He tells me I'm playing the right way and at a high level and that I just have to wait for a chance,” Dicker told the Herald.
“I'm playing well in a team that's near the top of the Championship so I must be doing something right. I'd love to play for Ireland and I think he wouldn't mind being our manager, so I will keep hoping that my chance will come with the national team
“It's hard to break in there. I was only saying to Stephen Quinn from Sheffield United the other day that it's very hard for players on the outside to get into the frame with Ireland, but I played underage with the likes of Paul McShane and Andy Keogh. I roomed with Stephen Ward with the U21s so I hope I can get there some day,” added Dicker, who gives Poyet a glowing reference ahead of that meeting with Liverpool.
“Gus is a brilliant manager. He has your total respect straight away because of what he's done in the game but also what he's like as a manager and a coach. I think he's destined for big things, maybe in the Premier League with a big club, but I hope we get to hold on to him at Brighton for a while yet,” added Dicker.
As a Liverpool fan Dicker would love the chance to play against his boyhood heroes tonight but an ankle injury makes him a doubt. Manager Poyet is likely to start with Dicker on the bench against Liverpool to make sure he's fully fit for their next big league game, against mid-table Leeds United on Friday night.
“With the Leeds game so close I might have to miss tonight. I had a chat with the manager after training yesterday and he wants me right for the Leeds match,” says Dicker.
“I have 30 of my family coming over for the game tonight so I'll have a bit of explaining to do if I don't play in the match. They won't be too happy with me.
“I'd love to play but I can’t risk doing serious injury to myself just because it's Liverpool. It'd mean the world to me to play against them because I followed Liverpool for so long. They broke my heart so often in the last few years but they're still the club I loved for so long.
“But I think we can do a job against them. I wouldn't be surprised to see us rolling Liverpool over. We are very strong at home this season and Liverpool are under a bit of pressure after losing away to Spurs at the weekend. I was at that game. I was in the away end with the Liverpool fans and they weren't happy, so the pressure is on Liverpool to come to our place and win.”
Home form is crucial for Brighton this season as, for so long, the club didn't have a home of their own, ending 12 years of homelessness at the start of this season by playing in the Falmer Stadium.
“Brighton were a bit like Shamrock Rovers. They lost their own home, had it sold and played here and there for a few years before getting a new place of their own, and it's a brilliant place to play,” he says. “I've played in a lot of great stadiums, I played at Wembley, but this place is unbelievable.
“It's been a great start to the season, for me and for the club,” says the former UCD man. “When I first came to England, my aim was to get into the Championship and now I've done that. I've had two promotions and we won the League One title last season, so it's been great.