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Marc won't turn his back

NEW STOKE CITY signing Marc Wilson says he has no intentions of turning his back on the Republic of Ireland and returning to his native Northern Ireland despite his omission from the squad for the start of the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

And instead, the 23-year-old is fully focused on his task of winning a place in the Stoke City midfield and establishing himself with the Republic under Giovanni Trapattoni.

Due to the international break over the past week, Wilson was able to get to know his new club Stoke, having signed for Tony Pulis' side from Portsmouth on transfer deadline day in a deal which saw Pompey get £2m, and Stoke players Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson in exchange.

So, instead of lining out for the Republic in their Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Armenia, Co Antrim native Wilson spent Tuesday playing for Stoke in a friendly game against Crewe, where Wilson played 45 minutes and scored in a 3-1 win.

Wilson, capped once at U21 level by the Republic, admits he was disappointed not to make the Irish squad for the Armenia and Andorra matches and there were fears in some quarters that he was being punished by Giovanni Trapattoni for pulling out of the squad for the previous three Ireland games -- Wilson was injured for the May friendlies against Algeria and Paraguay and was needed by his club for the Argentina game last month.

Players such as Wigan's James McCarthy have been exiled from the senior panel after pulling out of a squad as Trapattoni has made it clear that he demands complete loyalty from his players -- which prompted fears that McCarthy (born in Scotland) and Wilson (born in Northern Ireland) would come to rue their decision to declare for the Republic.

But despite the snub, former Northern Ireland underage international Wilson says he has no regrets about his decision to the Republic and he hopes that a run of form in the Premier League with Stoke can earn him his ticket to the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

"I was disappointed not to make the squad for the Andorra and Armenia matches, you're always disappointed when you're left out," Wilson told the Herald.

"But I am fully committed to the Republic and it's not even on the agenda for me to back off from playing for them, I just have to wait for my chance to come along.

"I made up my mind a long time ago to play for the Republic. I know in my heart that it was the right decision and I am sticking with it, playing for someone else has never even entered my head," added Wilson.

"It wasn't explained to me why I didn't make the last squad but that doesn't bother me too much. I just have to get my head down, work hard on getting into the Stoke team and hope that things can come from that.

"I saw the Armenian game last week and the Andorra match on Tuesday, and they were two great wins. Six points from two matches is a superb start to the group and the team are well-placed now before those big games with Russia and Slovakia next month, I just hope I can play a part."

Wilson played at U17 and U19 level for Northern Ireland but the man from Aghagallon, Co Antrim, was always eager to play for the Republic, making his debut in an U21 international against Luxembourg in 2006, in the same side as Anthony Stokes and Andy Keogh.

After some superb form in defence for Portsmouth last season -- Wilson is a natural midfielder but was pressed into action at centre half by Pompey -- he was promoted to the senior panel for the friendly against Brazil in London, where Wilson was an unused sub. He was again summoned by Trapattoni for the May friendlies at the RDS but injury forced him to pull out.

"I came over to Dublin to be assessed by the FAI staff so there was no question over the injury, it was the same injury that kept me out of the FA Cup final," said Wilson.

But the problem seems to have arisen when he missed out on the Argentina match last month so he could play in a Carling Cup tie with Stevenage.

"I didn't really have much choice in the matter, Steve Cotterill really wanted me to play in the game," said Wilson. "The club needed me as Portsmouth had a very small squad. Due to all that was going on, with few players available, we didn't even have a full bench for the game.

"Progress in the Carling Cup was good financially for the club and they needed the money so I had to miss the game. I never spoke to Trapattoni about it, I spoke to the FAI administration to let them know, so I can just hope that it's not held against me and I get another chance with Ireland."

Since then, Wilson has moved back to the Premier League thanks to that deadline day transfer to Stoke and, though it was a wrench to leave Fratton Park, where he had been captain, the move will benefit the 23-year-old.

"It was difficult for me to leave Portsmouth. I was there for eight years and had some great times there, played in Europe and reached the Cup final, and I was club captain too, but the move was a no-brainer, really. It suited everyone for me to go, especially Portsmouth as they got some money and two very good players in exchange for me. I think Pompey have done well out of the deal," he said.

"It will take me time to settle in as I had been used to Portsmouth for so long. I'm in a hotel at the moment and it's never nice to be living out of a suitcase but I'll start looking for my own place this week so I can really settle.

"I played on Tuesday against Crewe, I only played 45 minutes as we more or less used two teams, the manager just wanted to have a look at everyone as we have few new signings on board and he wanted to give them a run-out.

"I think I did well, I scored a nice goal but I don't know if I'll be in the team for the Aston Villa game on Monday. We have a few more days of training before then and the manager will want to assess the fitness of the lads who were playing in the internationals on Tuesday. But hopefully I can at least play a part against Villa.

"I played in central midfield against Crewe and that was a boost for me as that's the position I want to play in. I played a lot of my football in defence for Portsmouth over the last while, but I feel my natural position is in the middle of the park. I like to get on the ball and make things happen and hopefully I can do that at Stoke," he added.

"When Tony Pulis signed me, he said he was bringing me in as a central midfielder and that's where I want to play, but I can also do a job in defence if needed so hopefully I'll be an asset to the team."

Wilson may even enter a battle with fellow Irishman Glenn Whelan for a place in the Stoke side, as the pair are in competition for a central midfield role.

"It will be hard to get in ahead of Glenn as he's established with Stoke and with Ireland, he's been playing in the Premier League for a while now.

"I know it will be hard to get games, with Ireland and with Stoke, they both have so many great players available. I think the Irish squad will be even stronger next month if people like Damien Duff and Stephen Hunt are back, so the competition is intense.

"But if I can do well in training between now and the Villa game on Monday, get into the team and do well, I might have a chance.

"I want to do well with Stoke this season. Getting relegated with Portsmouth last season was hard to take, especially as we'd done so well in getting to the Cup final."


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