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Howling pack of Wolves at Trap door

FOLEY revelling in high-flying times at club as he and four Molineux team-mates bring feelgood factor to the Aviva.

NOTHING but smiles at Molineux in the English midlands these days - and that in turn is good news for Ireland ahead of the biggest week of international football for Ireland in a decade.

Nine Wolves players are absent from training this week as they're away on senior international duty, and no less than five of them are here in Dublin with the Ireland squad (Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt, Kevin Foley, Stephen Ward and Andy Keogh, who is on loan from Wolves to Leeds).

Last season Wolves was a hard place to earn a living as McCarthy's men spent most of the season battling relegation and only avoided a painful drop on the last day of the season, but the 2011/12 campaign sees the club as a much happier place, with Wolves even top of the table -- yes, top of the table -- for a brief period last Saturday.


Unbeaten in four games overall, just two points dropped and only one goal conceded in three league games, it's heady stuff for the Wolves faithful, and good news for Ireland, according to Kevin Foley.

Giovanni Trapattoni referred to Foley as a "joker" earlier this week, forcing the FAI's Italian-speaking press officer to explain that Trap was not being disparaging or putting down Foley in the same way that Bertie Ahern once dismissed Mr Future President Gay Mitchell as a "waffler", but was instead using an Italian phrase which describes a particular card in a pack of playing cards. Mr Versatile, in football speak.

Foley may not get to start against Slovakia on Friday, though he is next in line for a game in central midfield behind Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews, and he says that the club's good form will inspire Ireland.

"It's great for Ireland that we have so many players in the Wolves side, in a team that's doing well. It's good to have the sort of spirit we have at the club, everyone gets on well, there are no cliques or prima donnas, and that helps when we come away with Ireland," says Foley, who won his eighth cap in Ireland's last game, that win over Italy in Belgium.

"We're proud of the fact that we're all Irish and we're also part of a Wolves team that's doing well. Hopefully we can hold our heads up high again after the next two games.

"It was great to see Wardy score in the Premier League, all of the Irish boys are doing well. Kevin Doyle has been superb this season and it's great to see Stephen Hunt fully fit for the start of the season.

"He's started off the season very strongly, just like he finished last season. The three boys are all on form with Wolves and hopefully they can carry that into the Slovakia game.

"The Irish team are doing well now and so are Wolves. It was a great feeling to be top of the league, even though it was only for a little bit. One of the lads in the team took a picture of the league table at 2pm on Saturday and had it as his screensaver. It didn't last too long, mind you, but it was still a nice achievement," he smiled.

"It's a cliché to say that we're not getting carried away but that's honestly the case.

"We've been reminded of Blackpool last season who started the season very well but then faded away so Mick won't let us get carried away.

"If anyone at our club starts getting big-headed, Mick is the kind of manager who will sort them out. But it's a great start and hopefully we can keep it up."

Foley is still playing catch-up with his season as an ankle injury in pre-season knocked him off course, keeping him out of the Ireland squad against Croatia earlier this month and also the Wolves team at the start of the league season.


"I had a bit of a nightmare at the start of the season, I had some ankle trouble pre-season and I needed to get an injection, so I had to miss the Croatia game," he says.

"It was bad timing but I had to get it done, and then I was out of the side at Wolves for the start of the season, I could have no complaints as the lads were winning and doing well, so I have to bide my time and take my chance when it comes along.

"But I'm full fit now and ready to play.

"It's possible that I could be called on in midfield for Ireland. I got a bit of game-time there for Ireland in the Carling Nations Cup and against Italy as well.

"Of course Keith Fahey and Darron Gibson are out with injury so that's keeping me on my toes, I think I could do a good job there if needed.

"I played a fair bit in midfield last season, this season I have come on at right back and right midfield, but I can play in the middle too.

"Being versatile can count against you sometimes. Stephen Ward's probably in the same boat but it's worked ok for us so far and if called upon by Ireland I'll be ready."