Tuesday 24 October 2017

Hunt shrugs off McClean hype as he bids to lose ‘forgotten man’ tag

Stephen Hunt. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Hunt. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

STEPHEN HUNT says that he would be at home wearing his slippers instead of preparing for Euro 2012 if he got sucked into the hype surrounding Ireland new boy James McClean.

The wide pair are vying to provide an alternative to Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady and it is clear that the Wolves man feels he is the 'forgotten man' in the equation with the emergence of McClean.

When asked about his impressions of the Sunderland winger yesterday, Hunt responded by stating: "Luckily enough, my brain is not media-trained. If it was then, I would probably be sitting at home slippers on and relaxing, so I'm here and looking to do well."

Why did he say that?

"It's just the way it is, isn't it? If you read certain things about yourself then you would be retired long ago. I am excited to be here, and the competition is healthy and I am looking forward to it."

Evidently, Hunt is aware of suggestions in certain quarters that his place in the squad was vulnerable, with McClean making such a strong case for inclusion.

It was never likely that Trapattoni would drop Hunt, given his knowledge of the system and the manner in which he has performed in difficult away qualifiers in particular -- trial runs for the type of challenge Ireland might face in Poland.

Nevertheless, after a poor season at Wolves, not helped by injury problems in the second part of the campaign, Hunt is on a mission to remind the wider world that he still has something to offer.

He came in last Thursday to get down to work alongside McClean.

"I happened to have the injury, so I was more than willing to come in on the Thursday as I needed the training," he explained.

"There is a good edge everywhere. There are two players for every position and it's highly competitive on the wings. It's a good situation for Ireland to have and will keep me on my toes and bring the best out of Duffer, James, Aido and me.

"Whoever is in the starting 11 will get the backing of everyone else. That's the way the team is built. It's a team game."

Hunt, who was earlier less than impressed with a question as to whether he enjoyed Glenn Whelan's wedding -- and made a comment about the standard of the inquisitor's glasses -- said he will postpone any thoughts about his club situation until after the Euros. He has a year remaining on his Wolves deal and is yet to speak with new boss Stale Solbakken.

"If I'm at Wolves next year then I'll give 110pc because I owe them a little bit in terms of the injuries," he said. "To a certain degree they've stuck by me -- they haven't played me in certain games.

"I'm loyal to Wolves, like the area and get on well with the team. It's a bit disappointing there at the moment, but I'm here with Ireland now and I can't wait."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport