US-BASED star Joel Lindpere has pleaded with Estonia's manager to give him just 10 minutes to prove himself against Ireland on Saturday in his controversial return to the national team.
Lindpere, who plays for New York Red Bulls in the MLS and played against Robbie Keane only five days ago, has caused a Stephen Ireland-style stir in the Estonian media by ending his self-imposed exile from the international team and making himself available for the play-off against Ireland.
Lindpere flew into Tallinn last night and hooked up with his team-mates for their first training session of the week today, even though there are doubts over whether the midfielder, who quit international football last year, is fit or even deserves a place in the squad.
"It wouldn't be fair to take the place of someone else in the team, but I hope to get to play for 10 or 15 minutes against Ireland," said Lindpere, who ended up in New York after spells with clubs in Estonia, Bulgaria and Norway. "But even if I only get 10 minutes, I will do all I can and play my best for the team."
Coach Tarmo Ruutli started his work to prepare his team for the clash with Ireland on Friday, and Lindpere feels his side can advance to the Euro finals.
"There are always chances in life," he said. "The Estonian team has had two brilliant years, it's a pity that happened without me as I was not involved, but I am here now."
Sergei Zenjov, who impressed for Karpaty Lviv against St Patrick's Athletic in the Europa League earlier this year, is the main absentee from the Estonia squad.