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Christie hopes to ignite his career by wearing the green

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Cyrus Christie (left) and Andy Meyler during a training session at Gannon Park, Malahide

Cyrus Christie (left) and Andy Meyler during a training session at Gannon Park, Malahide

PA

Cyrus Christie

Cyrus Christie

SPORTSFILE

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Cyrus Christie (left) and Andy Meyler during a training session at Gannon Park, Malahide

REPUBLIC of Ireland newbie Cyrus Christie can thank his lucky stars for the timing of his arrival in Martin O'Neill's squad.

Christie, 22, joins Ipswich striker David McGoldrick as a newcomer ahead of an eagerly-awaited clash of Celtic nations which can have a huge bearing on the Euro 2016 qualification prospects of both countries.

His form, and that of his club Derby County, is on the rise, and Christie also fills the need for a right-back understudy to Seamus Coleman in the squad.

The attack-minded defender can also play left-back if required, so that's further good news.

Now all he needs is an opportunity to show he can do the proverbial job for the team. That may come next Tuesday against the USA, but he already has Martin O'Neill's vote of confidence.

In fact, the Irish manager's personal approach helped persuade Christie to opt for the Republic once his qualification via his grandmother, Mary Redmond, formerly of North Wall and Clontarf, became known.

Speaking after the squad's training session at Malahide yesterday, former Coventry player Christie elaborated on the process that ended with his declaring for the Irish.

"Last year when I was at Coventry someone got in touch with me through one of the coaches but nothing ever really came of it.

"This season I had a few messages and then the manager rang me on the first international break, and said he would like to get me on board and since then, it's just been trying to get the paperwork on board.

"Obviously he (Martin O'Neill) was in touch with me last time, when you played Germany, but we couldn't get it done in time. I managed to get it done in time for this one. They've been in touch and have been to most of my games this season.

"That was one of the main selling points, the manager was enthusiastic about getting me on board and he's been to most of the games.

"He's watched me and, for me, that's really pleasing to hear that from a manager. So it really was a no-brainer for me to come on board," said Christie.

No doubt some hard-headed realism came into the equation because international football is a major plus in any career.

As he was born and grew up in Coventry, Derby's website had him rightly listed as English.

The possibility of representing his native country arose via approaches from the England U-21s but once Martin O'Neill showed serious interest in acquiring Christie's services, he did not delay too long before availing of the opportunity to qualify for the Republic "My nan's name is Mary Redmond. Her mum was from the North Wall and then they lived in Clontarf and Kildare as well. She's still alive.

"I came over (to Dublin) when I was younger. I can't really remember much about it but I was over when I was younger. She lives in England now but some of my family are over here. They live not far from here (Malahide).

"Yeah, I always knew about the Irish connection and it was one that I wanted to do.

"England U-21s were in touch with me at the same time, but Ireland was the best option for me," said Christie.

In these situations, advice and support is central to making the right choice.

Jack Grealish of Aston Villa is playing cat and mouse with O'Neill regarding a final decision over his international future.

If Christie had any doubts, they were soon put to bed by key people in his circle.

"I just speak to the people who advise me, like my agent. I spoke with the manager, Steve McClaren at Derby, and the other people around me and we came to the conclusion that Ireland would be better for me.

"It was really a no-brainer, it didn't take much consideration. I think there are better opportunities for me with Ireland. They're a good team going places," he said.

The Irish link with Derby from Christie's team-mates Jeff Hendrick and team skipper Richard Keogh was another factor in persuading the full-back to wear the green jersey.

"They've been telling me about it. I live next door to Jeff back in Derby so he's always telling me about it and I played at Coventry with Richard Keogh and I'm with him again at Derby so they've always been telling me how it is, and how good it is," he said.

So what can Christie bring to the Irish camp? First and foremost, he can play right- and left-back, and like Seamus Coleman, he likes to raid forward given the opportunity.

As a first-choice player at right-back for high-flying Derby who top the Championship table, Christie is also in confident mode and would relish the opportunity to get some game time before returning to his club.

"Yeah, definitely, it's been really good there. We had a little blip there where we lost two games but we came back strong against Wolves.

Marker

"We've laid down a marker in the Championship with that win because obviously they were in the top six and only two points behind us so I think for us that was a big victory. Hopefully after the international break we can continue that," said Christie.

In the meantime, it's all about settling in and trying to impress the Irish manager and his backroom staff.

"I don't know what's going to happen. I'm just here to show him what I'm capable of and hopefully of take it from there. Hopefully I'll get to feature in the USA game," said Christie.

Christie's assimilation into the Irish set-up requires an initiation test - singing a song in front of the entire squad.

"I have one in mind. I think I'll do the one I did at Derby, 'Ignition' by R Kelly," said Christie.

Football is notoriously unpredictable but with Derby County leading the Championship, and following a 5-0 win against Wolves on Saturday, plus Christie's regular slot in Steve McLaren's side, the choice of 'Ignition' as a theme song is wholly appropriate.

Cyrus Christie Factfile

Age: 22

Born: Coventry, Sept 30, 1992

Clubs: Derby County

(joined July 2014, fee undisclosed);

Coventry City (joined club aged 8)

First team debut for Coventry: League Cup v Morecambe, August 2010 age 17

Appearances:

Derby County (19 to date, 0 goals)

Coventry City (119, 3 goals)

Nuneaton Town (loan, 2010/11, 0 goals)

Hinckley Utd (loan, 2010/11, 0 goals)

Weight: 12st 4lb (78kg)

Height: 6ft 2in (1.88m)

Irish Independent