Friday 23 March 2018

'Madness' - Eamon Dunphy slams eir Sport panel's assertion that Glenn Whelan should start ahead of Harry Arter Newsdesk Newsdesk

Harry Arter must start at the centre of Ireland's midfield in next Sunday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Austria, according to Eamon Dunphy.

The Bournemouth midfielder claimed the man of the match award during last night's impressive 3-1 victory over Uruguay at the Aviva.

Prior to the game, the eir Sport panel of Denis Irwin, Richard Dunne and Gary Breen selected Stoke's Glenn Whelan ahead of Arter for next week's pivotal game. They changed their tune after watching the game.

Writing in his column in today's Irish Daily Star, Dunphy outlined why Arter must get the nod.

"Harry Arter has to play against Austria next Sunday," he wrote.

"It is a huge match in terms of qualification for the World Cup in 2018.

"A win against Austria and Ireland are in a very strong position.

"A defeat, or even a draw, and the last few qualifiers could be very tricky.

"Martin O'Neill has lost key players like Seamus Coleman and Shane Long so there can be no excuses. The manager has to put his strongest 11 on the field.

"Last night's impressive win over Uruguay was broadcast on eir Sport and I was stunned by something their pundits agreed on before kick-off.

"They were all asked to pick their preferred team to take on Austria.

"Men with tons of experience of international football, so I was stunned to hear all three announce that they wouldn't pick Arter, and that they'd give yet another cap to Glenn Whelan.

"This is madness. Surely the penny has dropped with football people by now that Whelan isn't up to it?

"Arter was excellent when Ireland beat Austria in Vienna last November.

"He has had a very good season in the Premier League and there is a nice mixture to his play. Arter can pick a pass and play with intelligence, but there is a bite and spark to him as well.

"He isn't afraid to put himself about and Ireland will need midfielders with his qualities next Sunday. It should be a no-brainer for O'Neill."

The eir Sport panel did change their opinion after the game on Arter's involvement against Austria.

"Absolutely [Arter should play] now, after that performance. He's [the type of] player that we've not had for quite a while. He's very comfortable on the ball. Our ball retention has been very, very poor probably for the last four or five years? And we need a player of that ilk that's comfortable on the ball, can spot a pass quicker than anybody else - I think - in the team, and keeps the game going," Irwin said.

"He fits in there alongside Glenn Whelan who'll obviously do the more defensive side of things. He played very well tonight. Of course, I'm fairly certain now that he'll play next week."

Dunne concurred, saying: "Yeah [I'd start Arter over Hoolahan]. The reason for having Wes in is probably because we lack that little bit of creativity, but we've seen today with the energy, and Jeff Hendrick in particular getting forward so much, that we have got other options in terms of going forward. So, Harry Arter, he can't NOT play next week. He was outstanding today."

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