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Hunt makes case for McShane start on foot of form


Paul Hyland

Paul Hyland

Paul Hyland

Stephen Hunt reckons that Martin O'Neill might be missing a trick by leaving Paul McShane kicking his heels.

At the Aviva to help launch Irish menswear brand Benetti's new sponsorship deal with the FAI, Hunt made the point that McShane has not played a competitive (UEFA/FIFA) game in eight years.

"Well, when you consider the level he's playing at, and he hasn't had a (competitive) cap in eight years, you'd feel he should have had a cap somewhere along the line in a game that's important.

"Over the years he's had his critics of course, and everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I've been looking at McShane's performances up close and personal this year, and he's been outstanding.

"He's a different player to what he was three or four years ago. The difference is composure in terms of on the ball. Maybe Jaap Stam has brought the best out of Paul as well in terms of playing."

Hunt has always been close to McShane but his assessment is based on what he has seen with his own eyes and not loyalty.

"It's easy to say I'm friends with him, but when I watch him play, he's very composed, very settled. He's always been an aggressive defender.

"Most times, when I've seen him play this year, he's made the right decisions and he's been correct in the way he's playing."

McShane has the same kind of deep-rooted love for his country that James McClean is showing by being in America.

"He's one of them players that has great pride in the country in general, not just playing for Ireland.

"You sit down with Paul McShane and you have a conversation with him, and you realise that he's not the aggressive, long-haired player that he once was.

"I think if you look at Premier League experience with our centre-backs, there's not many. John O'Shea, maybe, and after that, there's not really anyone setting the world on fire.

"Duffy's obviously done well with Brighton this year. Keogh's playing at Derby who are mid-table. Nothing against Keogh, of course, but don't forget McShane's playing with a team that are third in the league, that have been up there all year on a consistent basis.

"He must be doing something right, so to not have a competitive cap in eight years?

"To be fair to Martin he has him (McShane) in most squads. I think he understands the value of having him around the place.

"Being around the place only does you a certain amount of good. You need to play, too, and I feel he's been unlucky not to play."