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Murphy wants shirt on merit

HE'S answered Ireland's call each time it has come in the last few months, even though it caused him to miss a chunk of his well-earned holiday.

But Ipswich Town 'keeper Brian Murphy says he wants to start winning a place in the senior Ireland squad on merit and not just as a stand-in for someone who is injured.

Murphy was called in to the Irish squad for the first time before the World Cup play-off against France in November. He was drafted in to replace the injured Keiren Westwood, though the then Bohemians man didn't make the bench for either game against the French, as Scunthorpe's Joe Murphy was next in line after Shay Given.

Murphy had actually finished up with Bohs by then and was due to go on a much-needed holiday in the USA before embarking on his new career with Ipswich.

The Waterford native didn't make the cut for the original 23-man squad for last week's friendly with Brazil but he was called in late on to replace the injured Joe Murphy, and this time the Ipswich man was on the bench against the Brazilians.

Now he has a taste for the international game, he has established himself in the first team at Ipswich after overcoming an ankle injury, so his next aim is a place in the Ireland squad all of his own.

"It was great to be in the squad and on the bench for the Brazil game last week, even though I didn't get to play," Murphy told the Herald.

"But I don't want to be just the player who is called in when all the other keepers are out injured, I want to be in the squad on merit and on the back of my own achievements.

"I'm not complaining. I spent so long trying to get recognition at international level and now I have been in the Irish squad for the last three games, against France and Brazil, two of the biggest football nations in the game.

"But at the same time I am ambitious, I want to be in that Ireland squad all the time and I aim to be one of the three 'keepers selected all the time, not just be fourth or fifth choice who is on stand-by all the time. There is so much competition for caps now with Ireland, Shay Given looks like he could play on for another few years and people like Keiren Westwood and Joe Murphy have been ahead of me in the queue, but I aim to establish myself as one of the three main 'keepers and see what happens after that," said Murphy, set to make his fifth appearance for Ipswich at home to Cardiff City tonight.


A place in the Ireland squad was a welcome bonus for the former Swansea City and Manchester City player, as Murphy had the worst possible start to his career at Portman Road, suffering a serious ankle injury during the warm-up before what could have been his debut against Leicester City, and he was out for a month.

But since a league win over Sheffield Wednesday last month, he's been established as No 1 and Town have lost just once in his four games, that coming last Saturday away to Blackpool on what Murphy describes as a "sandpit" of a pitch.

"It's gone okay for me: a win, two draws and a defeat in my four games, but we should be doing better than that. We need to be winning, not drawing, and we need to lift our form if we are to get away from the bottom end of the table," said Murphy.

"I'm happy enough with how I have done, keeping a clean sheet in two of my first three games was nice, but it's not about me, it's about the team and we need to do better. We have drawn way too many games and that has to change, hopefully starting tonight against Cardiff.

"I think the manager has been happy enough with me. I haven't had too many long heart-to-heart chats with Roy. The way I see it, if you are spending time in the manager's office a lot you're doing something wrong. He does his work on the training ground, picks the team and it's up to us to do the rest," Murphy added.

Ipswich have drawn 17 of their 34 league games this term and Murphy says that has to change if Keane's side are to get away from the bottom end of the table.

"We're not winning enough games, it's as simple as that," he said.

"We have drawn way too many matches and we need to go on a winning run to make sure we are not dragged into the relegation zone.

"It's very tight at that end of the table, Peterborough are bottom now and you have Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday in the bottom three as well.

"But I think anyone outside of the top ten could be dragged into a relegation zone if they have any sort of a bad run, Doncaster are mid-table but they are only a few points ahead of us and we're only one point outside of the relegation zone.

"So we need to get a running run going, starting tonight against Cardiff."