Kevin Doyle confident of a strong showing in Poland as he ponders a switch to the continent
AFTER five years living the less glamorous side of football, Kevin Doyle needs Euro 2012 to put some enjoyment back into his life.
The Wexford native appears drained by the white-knuckle ride he has been on since Reading finished eighth in 2006-07.
It proved to be heady days and what has followed has been tough, with the striker enduring two relegations (07-08 and 11-12), a final-day survival (10-11), a tough scrap (09-10) and play-off heartache (08-09).
This season in particular took its toll and he freely admits that he did not enjoy his football as Wolves went down with weeks to go.
Summer has arrived and a new manager has been installed at Wolves, but Doyle is open to the idea of moving on -- even abroad -- and he knows a strong tournament can open up his options.
He remained loyal to the Royals when they were relegated in 2008, but he's 28 now.
It is time to be a little more selfish, although he wants to avoid another relegation battle at all costs.
"It wasn't one of my best," he said when asked about the season just gone.
"I probably didn't enjoy it from start to finish. It wasn't great for anyone. I'm glad it's over and I'm glad this (the European Championships) is coming up.
"Ideally, I would love to be back playing in the Premier League but also I don't want to be relegated again. I would rather have a year in the Championship fighting to be promoted rather than (that).
"I have experienced five seasons of being one of the favourites to go down and being in that s**t, excuse my French.
"Whatever options I have in the summer, if that is the case, I would think carefully about it, I won't make a rash decision."
There has been interest before, with Arsenal having been heavily linked with the hard-running striker, but Doyle has stayed loyal to his clubs, only leaving Reading when the club couldn't resist the money Wolves were offering.
His international manager has often touted moves abroad for his players and, if he impresses in Poland during the European Championships this summer, the striker sees no reason to rule out a continental experience.
"I'd never have any issues playing abroad, I don't see why if you had the opportunity you wouldn't take it," he said.
"There are so many people come to England to play football and it seems to do them good, I don't think you should not want to go."
A lack of goals has coloured Doyle's recent club exploits and, when Wolves were in the mire, it was Stephen Fletcher who Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor turned to as the season went on.
Doyle's confidence seemed to suffer as he was left on the bench or deployed on the wing, but the former Cork City man said his self-belief has not been shaken.
"Everyone has their opinion. My goal-scoring this year wasn't good but in the Premier League I have always played with teams who are one of the favourites to be relegated," Doyle argued.
"I've been top scorer in those teams the majority of the seasons I've been there and I've been one of the top scorers in the Championship the two seasons I've been there.
"You can look at every stat a load of different ways.
"I always have an inner confidence. I suppose you have a day-to-day confidence as well. Some days you can hit a million shots and not hit the side of a bus.
"Your day-to-day confidence can go up and down. But the inner confidence has never been a problem. I know how to play and I know how I can play. Self-belief is never an issue."
Trapattoni will be encouraged if the striker can bring that self-belief to the table but Doyle faces an increasingly competitive environment in the Ireland squad; Jonathan Walters and his old friend Shane Long both scored more goals than him in the Premier League last season, while Simon Cox has impressed in a green jersey.
However, apart from the home game against Russia, the Italian has entrusted Doyle with a starting spot whenever he has been fit and, while Doyle is taking nothing for granted, he sounds confident that he has his manager's trust.
"They will all want to play just like I want to play -- it has never been any different. I wouldn't call it a threat, it's just that we want to play," he said.
"I don't ever look at (Long) as a threat. We both want to play. If I don't play, I don't look at him and think 'God, that f**ker'.
"That's the way it is and I'm sure it's vice versa.
"We have some decent options up front. Simon Cox has done very well whenever he has played for Ireland.
"I feel fit and sharp in training, which is nice. I have been working hard the last few months to make sure I am in good shape for this, so I'm sure whatever he (Trapattoni) is thinking, he will want to see us training and that will make up his mind.
"I will be fit and train well. He doesn't always pick the obvious team. I am not thinking for one minute that I am guaranteed to start or whatever, and I have never been. I'm glad to be here and picked in the squad and train well. Then we can see what happens."