Monday 19 March 2018

Green eager for opportunity to impress O'Neill

Paul Green (R) has been out of action since Ireland's 0-0 draw with Poland in November
Paul Green (R) has been out of action since Ireland's 0-0 draw with Poland in November

Sean Ryan

PAUL GREEN, the Leeds United midfielder who has been out of action since his man-of-the-match performance in Ireland's 0-0 draw with Poland in Poznan in November, is hoping to return this week.

"I had a little niggle with my hamstring, probably wear and tear," he explained, "and after I returned from Poland, I pulled myself out of the (Leeds) squad to get it right.

"I haven't played for a while and it's doing my head in, but I'm back training on Monday and hopefully I'll get a reserves game and then straight away be back in contention."

On working with Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, he said: "Things have changed quite a lot in the camp, and it will be great to work with them again. We didn't know what to expect, and it was like a first training situation with a new club -- everybody was all nerves."

Green was the central figure in the move that effectively spelled the end of Giovanni Trapattoni's reign. Trap introduced him as a sub for man of the match Shane Long with seven minutes to go, and Ireland leading Austria 2-1. Jonathan Walters moved to a central role, with Green filling in on the right.

"It shocked me," recalled Green, "but when the manager tells you to go on, even out of position, you're not going to say no. We were getting overrun in midfield and that area needed shoring up."

Following a mix-up over a free-kick routine, which involved Green, Austria broke away with David Alaba getting through for the crucial equalising goal.

However, Green remains grateful to Trap: "I can't grumble about what he's done for Ireland, and he gave me my chance. He got us in the mix in the World Cup and qualified for the Euros. Unfortunately, the last World Cup fizzled out fairly early."

Meanwhile, Leeds have slipped up in their last four games, suffering a humiliating 6-0 defeat away to Sheffield Wednesday yesterday, but Green is hopeful that they will "put another good run together" to get back in contention.

"The second half of the season is an exciting time. Everyone is fighting for points, either for promotion or play-off positions or to avoid relegation, so it's a good time to be playing in the games.

"The manager (Brian McDermott) has told me I'm in his plans, and I want to be playing so that Martin and Roy can have a look at me."

Irish Independent

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