Monday 19 February 2018

'I'm dying to get back in' - Paul McShane still harbours Euro 2016 dreams

Republic of Ireland's Paul McShane
Republic of Ireland's Paul McShane

John Fallon

Paul McShane is hoping Reading’s FA Cup run can boost his ambitions of making Ireland’s squad for the Euros.

The Wicklow man’s equaliser provided the springboard for the Royals’ 3-1 victory over Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion on Saturday which clinched a quarter-final place for the Championship club.

After shaking off a calf injury sustained on January 2, the club skipper has returned for the last three matches and feels his form is giving Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane something to consider as the June jaunt to France closes in.

The 30-year-old has only featured once under the managerial duo’s term, as a substitute in the friendly against England last May, but kept his place in the squad until groin trouble prevented him answering the call for the play-off victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in November.

“I’d be very disappointed not to make the 23-man squad,” admits McShane, who went to the finals in 2012 as a late replacement for his then Wolves clubmate Kevin Foley.

“All I can do is control my end of things. I’m playing regularly now in the Championship and FA Cup. Things are going well for me at present.

“When Martin and Roy first came in, they rang me up to check in but I was then ruled out for three months with an ankle injury.

“Other lads came and did well so I found myself out of the squad. I was dying to get back in and I did that last summer, which was a major plus for me.

“The manager has a big job to pick 23 players for the finals. There will be people disappointed but that’s the nature of the beast.”

O’Neill has indicated that next month’s friendly double-header against Switzerland and Slovakia will afford him some scope for experimentation and the former Hull City defender would relish an opportunity to enhance his credentials.

“The manager definitely takes into consideration how players perform in the training building up to the match,” McShane told Newstalk’s Off The Ball. “I think training is very important and, if you’re standing out, then he’s going to think ‘this fellah is ready’.”

Whoever does make the final squad won’t be subjected to the strict regime prevalent for the last finals four years ago.

McShane admitted the approach adopted by Giovanni Trapattoni in Poland led to cabin fever, something O’Neill and Keane aim to avoid by applying a balance to work and time off in the run-up to the opener against Sweden in Paris on June 13.

“The Italian mentality was to train and rest all the time but players don’t do that day-to-day with their club. We’d prefer to go for a walk outside and have a coffee but we couldn’t do that in Poland. There was a sense of cabin fever.”

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