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Friday 9 December 2016

Clint out to catch pool on the Klopp

Veteran Irish star Morrison targets Reds scalp in FA Cup

EXETER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Striker Clinton Morrison of Exeter City poses during the Exeter City FA Cup Media Day at the Cliff Hill training ground on January 6, 2016 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
EXETER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Striker Clinton Morrison of Exeter City poses during the Exeter City FA Cup Media Day at the Cliff Hill training ground on January 6, 2016 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

After 19 seasons in the game as a senior pro, and with his 37th birthday looming at the end of this campaign, it's no surprise that former Ireland man Clinton Morrison can see the finishing line.

There are goals still to achieve, and this week the striker had his mind on the FA Cup and the meeting of his club, Exeter City, with Liverpool tonight. Morrison is proud of his scoring record against that club, albeit in another decade, having scored three times in two Premier League games for Birmingham City against the Reds way back in 2002/03, and another goal tonight would be a nice chapter in what's bound to be his last season in professional football. "I'm starting to wind down and for me, the end of my career will be sooner rather than later," he says.

But Morrison is also looking into the future, another international career. His two sons, Shay and Kian, are already taking steps in the game with the Nottingham Forest youth academy, but Morrison knows who he wants them to play for.

"They are both good young footballers but they are only nine and eight so it's a long way to go. But I do want to get them into that Ireland jersey," says Morrison, who was at the centre of an eligibility drama before he declared for Ireland in 2001.

"I am very keen for them to play for Ireland, but my other half keeps saying 'they can make a decision about Ireland when they are older, they might want to play for England' but I hope to convince them now," added Morrison, who was last capped in 2006, in that disastrous 5-2 loss to Cyrpus, a defeat which killed off a number of international careers.

But Ireland's still on his mind and in his make up. "It is still a big deal for me and I speak to people like Brian Kerr regularly and I keep an eye on how all the boys are getting on.

Brilliant

"Qualifying for the Euros was brilliant, I think Martin O'Neill really started to become the manager we all hoped he would be in the Germany game, the players were brilliant and they deserve to be in France," says Morrison, though he would like to see former internationals have more of a voice in the Ireland set-up.

"There should be more of a role for the ex-international players. It's very hard to get your foot in the door over here in England and Ireland should try to have the former players involved," he says.

"I know Roy (Keane) is involved with the FAI but Martin O'Neill has also brought in some coaches that he worked with before at places like Leicester, and I would love to see lads like Gary Breen or mark Kinsella get coaching roles in the Ireland set-up. I will be over in Ireland to do my badges in the summer so maybe that could lead to something."

Until then, he has a season to finish with Exeter, who take a break from League Two worries to face Liverpool tonight. A former Premier League player himself, he knows that Liverpool's stars won't be at home in Exeter.

"It's not glitz and glamour when you go into the changing rooms down here. I don't think the Liverpool staff and backroom team will fit into the away dressing room - we just about get everyone into the home changing room, I don't know if there's even enough room in the dugout for all the people that Liverpool have in their squad and on their staff.

"I think the Liverpool players will be more used to the big dressing rooms at Anfield instead of places like Exeter. They have to be professional but I hope they come here with the attitude that they can't be bothered, though I can't really see that happening under the new manager, it seems now that all the players want to play for him."

As a player with clubs like Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Coventry, he had the occasional cup run but finds the current landscape difficult.

"I think it's harder for clubs like us against Premier League teams now. Maybe 10 years ago, the likes of Liverpool didn't take the FA Cup that seriously, it was all about the Champions League. But I think clubs have changed their attitude, they now see the FA Cup as a trophy they want to win. Liverpool probably feel they won't win the Premier League but they will want to win the FA Cup and League Cup.

"The League Cup has maybe been better to me but I have enjoyed the FA Cup too. If we could get a draw here and get to a replay at Anfield that would be fantastic."

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