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Saturday 3 December 2016

Doyle: 'I'm not here to make up the numbers'

No caps in 13 months but Kevin still committed to the Irish cause

Kevin Doyle playing for MLS side Colorado Rapids
Kevin Doyle playing for MLS side Colorado Rapids

Another trip on Ireland duty, this time a flight deep into the heart of the Balkans, poses no problems for one well-travelled member of the Irish squad this week.

Kevin Doyle, who now plies his trade 7,000km away in Denver with MLS side Colorado Rapids, has been building up the air miles, and always without any reward as the veteran striker has come into the Ireland camp and gone home again on the last two international trips without playing a game. Between those flights to and from his Colorado home, the Algarve, Poland and stays in Dublin in between, that's over 30,000km travelled just to sit on the bench.

Action

As he hopped onto the team bus in Warsaw last month, having travelled all the way from his USA base and not seen a minute's action, Doyle could have been forgiven for having a frown, and maybe even ignoring the message the next time Ireland came calling.

But Doyle, one of the longest-serving players in the current squad (only John O'Shea, Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady have been around the senior squad for longer) has no moans or groans.

He knows he's unlikely to start in Zenica on Friday, but he's also been around long enough to know that a nod from the manager and run off the bench could lead to something big. So Doyle sits somewhere in between being happy to be in the squad in the first place, while not being content with just making up the numbers in O'Neill's squad.

"No, I am not there to make up the numbers, I am there to play. I won't come over for the sake of it, it's a long way to travel and I come over hoping to play, there's no point in me being here otherwise," Doyle told The Herald.

"You never know, a chance can come along when you don't expect it. My very first chance in England came about through injury and I had to take it, then stay in the team so I have to keep the same approach here for the Bosnia games."

He bats away suggestions of personal frustration at his non-involvement under O'Neill, who has picked Doyle just six times in two years, Doyle's last cap coming as sub in the win over Gibraltar 13 months ago.

"It's not a frustration from not playing but you do have a situation where you miss MLS games when you're away with Ireland and that's hard. I am their designated player but I disappear for 10 days with Ireland and miss a game or two for the club and that's hard on them," said Doyle, who has settled in well with the Rapids.

Position

"That's life in the MLS and from a personal point of view it is tough, its a lot of travel but you do it, you are playing for your country.

"I want to play well, be in good form if we are at the Euros and play a part. I do what I can to be in a position to play. If I don't get picked then so be it, I feel lucky to be in that position in the first place."

A trip to Euro 2016 next summer is very much on Doyle's agenda. "France would be great if we can get there. I have to admit I would love to get to a World Cup, I have been to a Euros but the World Cup is different," he says.

"We juts look to Bosnia first. I know it's two legs but I see it like a cup tie. We have a lot of players with big experience, they are in the play-offs for a reason in that they didn't finish in the top two in the group, like us, I'd say it will be pretty close, I can't see either team running away with it and it will be hard to call.

"I can't see us being ridiculously nervous as we have been here before, in play-offs. This will be my third play-off and I know that will help me in terms of preparing, it's not a massive thing but you are more prepared and you're not as nervous. We will be confident and we have a good chance. I saw them play Wales a while back and I know they are a good side."

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