DARREN O’DEA admits that he’s in limbo when it comes to his club career as he faces into a nervous few weeks.
The Ireland international was given an early summer holiday as Leeds United - O’Dea had been on loan there from Celtic - allowed him leave the club before the Championship season ended last weekend - so he’s effectively been on holidays for the last ten days.
Celtic have yet to declare if they want to retain the Dubliner, but he’s very much focused on the Euro 2012 finals and O’Dea, who could be technically club-less when he travels to Poland in June, insists that he’s not just using the European Championship finals as a shop window to get himself a club.
“I wouldn’t just see it as a shop window, I am there to play for Ireland and represent Ireland, it could be a case of patience for me now,” O’Dea told the Evening
Herald this week, having severed his ties with Leeds after a season-long loan deal.
“With the Euros on the way, who knows what could happen for me if I get to play there, it could open up lots of doors for me. It will probably be a move to England, I can't see myself going to a Scottish club at this stage.
“People do call a tournament like Euro 2012 a shop window, but international football in general is a chance to show what you can do.
“I’ve played in some of the qualifiers and a lot of the friendly games, and it’s a great stage to test yourself, it’s a great thing to have on your CV, having played in the likes of Moscow or Macedonia in the qualifiers, so I’m not just going out there trying to do well on a personal level to get myself a club,” added O’Dea, who made his competitive debut in the home win over Macedonia and made four appearances in the qualifiers.
The 25-year-old knows that if fit, Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger will start the tournament in central defence and O’Dea is hoping that Dunne comes through the rehab from his shoulder injury and is cleared to play.
“I want Ireland to do as well as we can and do that we need our best players, so I want Dunney to be fit. But if he’s not I would like to step in. I can’t see Richard being out, it’s his shoulder and not a hamstring or anything like that,” he says.
“Once you get to Poland anything could happen, suspensions or injury, and I just have to be ready. I know I might not get to play at all but I am ready for that too and once the team does well, that's all that matters.”
But O’Dea’s club situation is confusing: Leeds hired him on a loan deal from Celtic but two weeks ago manager Neil Warnock said that the club would not be signing the Dubliner on a long-term basis.
“Celtic have a year’s option on me and they have to make it known before the end of May whether they will want to exercise that,” he said. “I can’t do much until then, if Celtic don’t take that option I will be a free agent and it should be easy enough to get a new club, it’s just down to me to decide what to do. If Celtic do take up that year’s option then it's more complicated because they would be involved in terms of what happens next,” he says.
“I’m 25 now so Celtic wouldn’t be entitled to compensation if I went on a free, so what they could do is take up the year's option and then try and sell me, which they could well decide to do.
“In January there were a couple of options in terms of a move but I had signed for Leeds for the season so I couldn't go in the end.
“I played 40-odd games for Leeds, I played a lot of the internationals so I feel as if I’m in a strong position, if Celtic don’t take up that option on me I’d be confident of finding a good club but I’ll only find that out when Celtic make up their minds.”