Friday 23 February 2018

Ireland escape eases club woes for St Ledger

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

SEAN ST LEDGER grew up in a different city and he speaks with a different accent to the natives, but there is a look about the Leicester City defender as he settles into the FAI suite in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin that suggests he is home.

His international career has offered him a glamorous subplot to his day-to-day existence as a Championship defender.

As a loyal Giovanni Trapattoni lieutenant, St Ledger has repaid his manager's faith in big games with goals against Slovakia and Italy combined with strong performances on big nights alongside Richard Dunne.

At club level, the defender admits his form has been inconsistent and he's currently fighting for his place at Leicester, but next week he'll swap the grind for the glamour of the biggest international window in some time.

Yesterday, the Aviva Stadium was prepped for rugby, but the stadium will rock to a different tune tomorrow week.

In town to promote the Three Trade-in Scheme for which he donated his appearance fee to the Friends in Ireland charity, St Ledger was clearly looking forward to coming back for the big game against Slovakia before travelling to Russia.

St Ledger's club career hasn't always gone to plan and he will arrive into camp next week after a difficult start to his Leicester stint.

Ireland has provided an oasis in the at times chaotic world of St Ledger and he has been thankful for what he sees as the pinnacle of his football life so far.

"It's got me through the last few years. It's always been something on the side that it's been a relief to get away from (the club)," he admitted.

"My form at club level has been inconsistent; it's been up and down. To come here and to play amongst the kind of players and teams that we have played against -- it's nice to play against them and play a different style of football. It's very challenging."

Ireland's 2-0 victory over Italy in Liege may go down as a footnote to a new generation realising their potential.

The win was achieved without the stellar names of the past 10 years and St Ledger reckons that the newer batch of players proved there is life after Richard Dunne, Shay Given, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff.

"Italy are a strong football nation and obviously Dunney, Shay, Robbie and Duffer weren't playing and they're four huge players for us," he explained. "You look at the careers they've all had -- it'd be like taking Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, (Fernando) Torres and (Gerard) Pique out of the Spain team.

"The boys who came in and played in that game, we did real well. There's a real belief there, a real togetherness. Going on this long trip when everyone could have been on holiday, everyone was together and that's how we created that result."


After relegation with Preston, St Ledger escaped to big-spending, ambitious Championship club Leicester City.

Sven Goran Eriksson has assembled a strong squad and the arrival of Matt Mills -- whom the Swede made captain -- from Reading for £5m means St Ledger must fight for his place.

"I haven't really played too many games," he said. "It's down to me to work hard and show the manager at club level I'm worthy of a starting place.

"I've played twice for Leicester now and one international so I don't think I'm too far behind in terms of games. I feel fit and fresh.

"Sven comes in at half-time and he's very tactical, gets the board out and shows you what to do to beat them. Whereas Giovanni is a little bit different. He'll just tell you.

"It's unbelievable to be working under two managers who have won so much."

Irish Independent

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