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Friday 30 September 2016

250 not out for Glenn in Premier

Stoke City's Irish midfielder Glenn Whelan talks to former Potters team-mate Michael Tonge
during Stoke's League Cup win at Stevenage in midweek. Photo: PA Wire
Stoke City's Irish midfielder Glenn Whelan talks to former Potters team-mate Michael Tonge during Stoke's League Cup win at Stevenage in midweek. Photo: PA Wire

On the eve of his 250th Premier League appearance, Dubliner Glenn Whelan does not the recognition he is due, according to his club manager Mark Hughes.

Experience in the top flight in England is pretty thin on the ground from an Irish viewpoint of late and, of the 28-man squad named by Martin O'Neill in midweek for next Wednesday's friendly against Oman and the World Cup qualifier in Serbia, only nine players have played in the Premier League so far this term.

Seamus Coleman has not kicked a ball since Ireland's defeat to France in June and it's a major concern for O'Neill that Robbie Keane's likely successor as team captain will not be fit for the tie in Belgrade, with Everton manager Ronald Koeman confirming that Coleman would sit out tomorrow's game at home to Stoke, with an injury doubt over James McCarthy while outcast Aiden McGeady is not even in the Toffees squad.

"Seamus is not fit. and here are small doubts over McCarthy, Gibson and Cleverley," said Koeman, preparing for the visit of Stoke.

Whelan has played the full 90 minutes in both league games for City so far and is expected to keep his place in the side tomorrow, which would take him to the 250-game mark in the Premier League, an achievement worthy of wider attention, says Hughes.

"A lot of people write Glenn off, which is really unfair on him," says the Stoke boss.

"Everybody should recognise what he does and what he brings to the table. You don't play that amount of games at the top table unless you are an accomplished player, and Glenn is certainly one of those. We value him, and we feel he is a very important member of the squad. It will be a good achievement for him, if he is selected of course."

Whelan's former Stoke team-mate Marc Wilson hopes to make his Premier League debut for Bournemouth away to Crystal Palace tomorrow, having scored in a midweek League Cup win which ended a miserable run for the Antrim man.

It was a rare goal, the first in four years, for Wilson, but he now ready to make an impact with the Cherries now that his injury woes, which prevented him from making Ireland's Euro 2016 squad, are over.

"That's my first game in seven months since I ruptured my medial knee ligament," he explained.

"When I recovered with my knee I knew it was strong this time, I knew it was right. I had done everything right.

"I was working hard on it and I was gutted I missed the Euros, so I wanted to get it right this time.

"To be honest I spent most of my time in America, I got my knee right, I was feeling good, then I had a good pre-season and decided to move to Bournemouth. This is where I'm at and I'm concentrating on doing well at Bournemouth now."

With Shane Duffy out of the Serbia game due to suspension and Coleman a doubt, Wilson could feature in defence in Belgrade.

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