Upbeat Doyle aims to seize chance on redemption road
Wolves striker keeping Premier ambitions alive
KEVIN DOYLE has dismissed the possibility of leaving Wolves in the January transfer window – although he also hinted yesterday that this year could be his last with the Molineux club.
Aware not just of interest from Hull City and Leeds United but also of the fact his international career prospects could suffer from a prolonged spell in League One's backwaters, Doyle is considering change in 2014.
But it won't happen in January. From bitter experience, he knows how rare it is for deals to be closed in the post-Christmas sales period and having missed out on moves to Celtic this year and Everton the season before, the Irish international has decided to take matters into his own hands.
"I'm staying with Wolves for the year," he said yesterday. "I don't want to be there for half a season and then see the lads go on and get promoted or maybe win the league. So, I'm there for now anyway."
Yet if Wolves fail to win promotion then there will inevitably be a policy shift because while Doyle is no football snob, trips to Colchester, Walsall and MK Dons have a limited appeal.
"At the start of the summer I did think it would be tough to motivate myself for League One," he said "but once we got back playing again, winning games in front of 20,000 people, you don't care what league you are in.
"We won on Saturday to go top of the league and it would be nice to claim a title, but it won't come easily because this has proven to be a surprisingly good league.
"Teams up their performance against us – something you can gauge in the tunnel from the stuff they say before games. We have responded to the challenge and have relished it. We are enjoying ourselves here but having said all that, I also want to play Premier League football again."
Eighteen months have passed since he last did so. Since then, there have been back-to-back relegations and another more personal demotion, when Giovanni Trapattoni cast him aside from the international panel.
Bitter? He could, perhaps, should be. But Kevin Doyle doesn't do regrets.
If he did, he'd think back to the last days of August in 2008, 2010 and 2011 – and then the transfer deadline days of January in 2012 and 2013 – and the bids Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and Celtic lodged and got rejected.
Had any of those moves worked out then life could have been a whole lot better.
Then again, he remembers his early days when he bought a two-bed apartment in Cork on the premise that the League of Ireland's boom years would never end.
But by 2008, the bottom had fallen out of both Ireland's housing market and its league and the thought of what could have happened to Doyle never escaped him. "I'd probably have stopped playing and gone looking for something else to make a living," he said.
So that's the context of where he's coming from now when he talks about a lack of persecution.
"It wasn't a good situation at Wolves. Four of us from the club went to the Euros and three or four months later we weren't in the Ireland squad which tells you something. It was a case of him feeling our morale would not be good with the situation we were in and I accepted that. It was tough, but so be it.
"I never fell out with Giovanni even though I didn't like the way we were told. I accepted the decision, even though I missed being away from it and it hurt when the games against Germany, Sweden and Austria were on.
"Deep down, I always believed I would come back and now that I have, I'm not taking anything for granted."
Instead, he's contemplating taking his chance as football's redemption road takes him and this Ireland side back to Poznan, the starting point for the long decline.
"The Euros were a blur, a whirlwind. It was such a long build-up and then all of a sudden there were three games in eight or nine days and we were all going home and then going away on holiday thinking f**king hell! You don't even see it coming.
"The whole thing was so disappointing. I'd watched Ireland in World Cups and Euro 88 over the years and it brought about such positivity and joy to the country. And we couldn't do that. We didn't really justify ourselves. We weren't scarred from it and are not going back there now trying to get a different mindset."
Instead, the regime change has already brought that, O'Neill removing the chains from a side who played with fear.
"Friday was great and a bright start, but the way we played then is maybe different to how we will play against Poland," he said.
"It will be a totally different game, but you have to look at the fact that the manager has been fantastic for so many years and will know how to work it.
"No manager uses the same tactics every time. From what I hear, it will be a different team and perhaps a different formation."
One Doyle hopes to fit into.
"Anyone who is content to be a squad member shouldn't really come here.
"If you feel you're only going to be a squad player it's a pretty long time to be away, just sitting in a hotel room. You wouldn't last too long if that was your attitude," he said.