Friday 15 December 2017

Whelan prepared to switchclubs to remain in international mix

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

THE fact that a sizeable group of his regular starters are struggling for first-team action is an issue that exercises the mind of Giovanni Trapattoni, but one of those -- Glenn Whelan -- is hoping to reduce its number by one by January.

The Clondalkin man has started just three matches for Stoke City this season and, although he has come off the bench on seven occasions, the 26-year-old is concerned that if his spell on the sidelines continued after Christmas then his Ireland place would be in jeopardy.

So, he is ready to sit down and discuss the matter with Stoke manager Tony Pulis when the transfer window opens in January. Having started 25 league matches last season, his frustration is more than understandable.

The Welshman has told Whelan that the reason he has not been selected thus far is that his international games last summer left him mentally and physically drained at the start of this campaign. And as a result of the form of his replacements Dean Whitehead, Marc Wilson and Rory Delap, he cannot get back in the team now he has been rested.

Ironically, tomorrow's international friendly against Norway represents a chance for Whelan to get some game time and remind Pulis of what he can do. His international form has been rewarded at club level before and he is hoping he can win his place back with a strong performance. If not, he says he will consider his options.

"I want to be involved with Ireland as much as I can, involved in these games and the qualifiers and playing games," he said at last night's launch of the FAI Late Night League programmes in Darndale.

"If it means I move on and leave the club, so be it. But I'm not thinking about that now, I'm thinking of getting into the team and going from there. We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

"He (Pulis) hasn't told me anything bad or that he doesn't want me in his plans. He told me to keep working hard and that I'll get a chance -- so that's what I'm doing. Hopefully, if I do well for my country the manager will take a bit of notice and realise that I can get back to good form and get back in the team."

Given the presence in his squad of a handful of players who are not getting regular game time with their clubs, Trapattoni is understandably concerned by the trend.

And, while Whelan has not discussed the matter with the Italian, he is under no illusions that his Ireland place is at stake if he cannot get game time.

"I know myself," he admitted. "I'm not stupid and if you're not playing week in, week out you're going to lose your match sharpness and not get as fit.

"But you need to be playing well for your club for these chances to come around and I need to get playing as soon as possible. Come next year if I'm not playing, I can't really see these things coming around because there will be other lads playing and they will have a fighting chance of getting into the squad.

"If you ask anybody, you want to be playing as many games as you can and I think I've only started three games. It's not enough. I'm working harder to try and get in the team probably than I've ever done so I just need a chance to get in.

"I had it a couple of years ago -- I was playing for Ireland and wasn't really involved (at club level), so hopefully it will be the same thing again. But I'll be working hard here and when I go back to Stoke as well."

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