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No crystal ball for Garvan

FORGOTTEN man Owen Garvan fears that a table-topping run in the Championship will not be enough for him to catch the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni, and the only way he'll earn a place in the Irish squad is by winning promotion to the Premier League.

Garvan and his Crystal Palace team-mates are riding high in the Championship, having surged to the top of the table even after the loss of their manager Dougie Freedman (and his Irish assistant Curtis Fleming) to Bolton, as new boss Ian Holloway has carried on their good form.

That placing at the top of the table means that Garvan, 24, is one of the highest-placed Irish midfielders in England right now: of the players available to Trapattoni, only a handful, such as Darron Gibson, Glenn Whelan, Wes Hoolahan, James McCarthy and James McClean, are ahead of former Home Farm man Garvan.

But international recognition is hard to come by as the Dubliner is uncapped at senior level and has not been involved with Trapattoni's squad since he was called in for a training camp in Portugal four years ago.

Garvan is one of a batch of Irish central midfielders who are impressing in England's second tier but who are also being overlooked by Trapattoni, along with compatriots like Chris McCann (Burnley), Stephen Quinn (Hull) and Gary Dicker (Brighton).

But Garvan has been around for long enough - this is his eighth season in first-team football in England - to know how things work.

"Playing for Ireland is still the aim for me but I know now that I need to be playing week in, week out and I'd probably have to be in the Premier League for that to happen," Garvan told the Evening Herald.

"As a country we don't have too many players playing in the top division. It's not like years ago when we had all those players at Liverpool and Manchester United every week.

"We need to have more players in the Premier League in England and hopefully I can get there with my club next season.

"All I can do as a player is do my best and hope it's good enough for other people to pick you but there's no point in me moaning about anything. If I do well enough for a club in the Premier League then I'd have a stronger case in terms of winning caps, so Ireland isn't a big concern for me," added Garvan, who was joint holder of the all-time scoring record with the Irish U21s until Robbie Brady broke that record earlier this year.

"The whole point of coming to England is to play in the Premier League, and we have a good chance of doing that with Palace next season.

"It's said that the Premier League in England is the best league in the world. We have given ourselves a chance of being in that division next season but we have to build on what we have done so far.


"My own form has been good this season. Sometimes I play in a holding midfield role but at times I get to go forward as well, though I'd like to have scored a few more goals than I did.

"I am playing in almost every game and the season has gone well for us so far. We're enjoying it at the top of the table, but there's a long way to go before the season's over and we can't get carried away."

Palace's presence at the top of the Championship table is a surprise to all, including the players. "We were poor in pre-season and we weren't great last season, we were probably one of the favourites to get relegated," says Garvan, one of three Irish players in the Eagles squad as Damien Delaney has impressed since his move from Ipswich, while club captain Paddy McCarthy has been out injured long term.

"We lost our first three games of this season and it all looked bleak but we turned things around. We won away to Charlton in September and we're unbeaten since then."

Palace have even survived the loss of highly-rated manager Freedman to Bolton, and Garvan - who worked under Roy Keane, among others - says he loves playing for Holloway.

"It's interesting," he says of Holloway.

"Under Dougie Freedman it was very structured, you always stayed in your shape, but under this manager you have a bit more freedom. We're still a good side, we defend well and with the wingers we have, especially Wilfried Zaha, we will always create chances," added Garvan, who is a big fan of team-mate and new England cap Zaha.

"I knew him since he was 17, he's just gone 20 and he is turning into some player.

"He only got a couple of touches with England last week but he will get more and more games with them, he's one for the future."

However, Garvan's future at Palace is by no means certain - this is his third season with the Eagles but he's out of contract at the end of this season and so far there's been no talk of a new deal.

"I have until the end of the year and so far nothing has come up, which isn't a great sign," he said. "If the club wanted to do something they may have done it by now and I can speak to other clubs after January. If they come to me over the next few weeks then great, I'll deal with it then."