| 10.9°C Dublin

St LEDGER: LET'S DO THE JOB

NO distractions and no complacency.

Only one aim at the end of 180 minutes and that's to make sure that this Irish group of footballers does not spend another summer of watching a major tournament on television, a summer of spectating and not partaking.

Two years ago, as the World Cup qualifying campaign took the team towards Paris and the French, the FAI eased pressure on Trapattoni by handing him a new contract even before the playoffs, but that's not the case this year as everything -- Trapattoni's future and the long-term international future of senior players such as Shay Given and Robbie Keane -- hinges on what happens against Estonia.

But Seán St Ledger insists that nothing will distract the team and the manager from the next two matches.

"From the players' point of view there are no distractions. All the talk about contracts and finance, that's all behind the scenes, it's nothing to do with the players, hopefully if we can do the job in the play-off the FAI will give the manager a new contract," St Ledger told the Herald.

"I want the manager to stay on, he brought me into the squad and gave me my chance, it would be great if he stayed. The results under him have been very good.

"I know that this is possibly the last chance to qualify for a number of the lads so there's a lot at stake."



Favourites

The confidence, indeed over-confidence, in some sectors of the Irish game ahead of the meeting with Estonia is worrying. We're not comfortable in the role of favourites and Leicester City man St Ledger says that, whatever about outside voices, no-one in the panel thinks that Ireland's participation at Euro 2012 is already a given.

"There could be complacency on the part of the fans and the media, but not the players," St Ledger says.

"We are expected to win the game as we are higher in the rankings than Estonia, but football is not like that, you don't win a game with your ranking.

"When we played France a few years ago everyone expected them to roll over us but they struggled, we put up a real show against them.

"We will show them the respect they deserve, they are here on merit, they deserve their second spot in the group just as much as we do and they have beaten some very good sides along the way, so the players won't be complacent.

"I've been there before, with Peterborough or Preston, going in as the underdog trying to upset the odds, and Estonia will do the same to us, we have to be very wary. Everyone wanted Estonia when the draw was made, but everyone else in the draw probably wanted to get us so it's not a massive issue.

"Estonia are a good side technically and we'll have a hard game against them. They seem to score spectacular goals. They're a very talented side and one of their attributes seems to be scoring long-range goals. As defenders we will have to guard against that and stop shots coming in, but having someone like Shay Given in goal makes the defenders confident, we know it will have to be a special shot to beat Shay."

St Ledger's club form was a source of major concern for most of this season and when he was in camp with Ireland last month for the Andorra/ Armenia double header, he admitted that his lack of first-team action -- just one league appearance by then -- would force him to speak to Sven Goran Eriksson about a loan move.

No point in Sean speaking to Sven now as the Swede has been dismissed by Leicester, but St Ledger's club situation has improved.



Worried

"I'm fortunate to have had some game time, I had three games in the last while, since the Armenia game. Just before the Armenia game, when I was in camp with Ireland, I was worried as I wasn't playing for my club," he says.

"I had planned to go back to the club and speak to them about going on loan but then when I got back, one of our centre halves got sent off so I got a run in the team when he was suspended, and now I feel really sharp, the sharpest I have felt all season and hopefully I'll get the nod against Estonia," adds St Ledger, who admitted last month that his situation at Leicester had turned into a nightmare.

"I needed games. Match fitness is key. You can do all the running in the world, all the gym work and training but you need matches to stay sharp. But I have been fortunate to get some games. I've even played Saturday/Tuesday, which is similar to what we'll have against Estonia."


Privacy