Monday 18 December 2017

McGeady sets focus on Poland after mind games in Moscow

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

HEADLINES rarely emerge from Russia with love, something Aiden McGeady has had to learn the hard way.

The distance between Moscow and Dublin is 2,779 miles and nothing emphasises it more for the Spartak winger than the time it takes for news to travel from his club scene to the Irish media, not to mention what is lost in translation en route.

The noises from Russia were less than encouraging during this season. McGeady lost his place in the team. A consultant to manager Valeri Karpin questioned whether the Ireland international needed to see a psychologist, while there were reports that he had been fined for an indiscretion -- something he vehemently denies ever happening.

But having finished the season by playing a key role in his club's qualification for next season's Champions League, McGeady is keen to clear up what he sees as inaccuracies emanating from Russia. And while he admits that things didn't go to plan earlier in the season, he is happy with his form ahead of the Euros.

"There was a period when the season started when I was out of the team for a bit. Things were weighing me down," he admitted. "When you're out of the team, you're isolated, training every day.

"Obviously, it happens in England as well, but if you're a substitute and you come on the next day you're training with the rest of the subs and that can get you down. You're quite far away from home. When I was back in the team it was all forgotten about and the last two months of the season were probably the best I've had since I went out there."

As for the comments made by consultant Oleg Romantsev about seeing him needing to see a shrink, McGeady shrugged and suggested that something was lost along the way.

"He (Romantsev) is one of Karpin's consultants. That's obviously good, one of his consultants coming out and saying that," he said with more than a hint of sarcasm. "I don't think it was meant in a real negative way. I think it was more like 'something's gone wrong in the last few months, I think maybe he has to speak to someone to maybe clear his head' -- not as in 'this guy is nuts and needs to see a psychiatrist'."

McGeady does not expect to stay in Moscow beyond the length of his contract, which expires in 2014. He doesn't mind the life of a professional footballer in Russia, but his girlfriend and young daughter have found it tough.

"The lifestyle is okay for me, but my girlfriend finds it quite difficult," he explained. "That is probably one of the main factors, I have a wee girl as well. I'm away for long periods of time and she's in the house herself. It's not ideal. If I was on my own it would probably be easier, but when you have someone else with you it can be more difficult."

Now he is back among his own and preparing for a first major championships. The 26-year-old is approaching 50 caps in green and is the only Irish squad member who has Champions League football to look forward to next season. His mind is already starting to focus on Croatia on June 10, a game McGeady is confident the team can win.

"You could get out of the group with four points," he said. "A win against Croatia and a draw in one of the other two games could get you out. No one is expecting us to go there and win every game."

Irish Independent

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