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Sunday 25 September 2016

Murphy: This is my last chance

Fit-again striker keen to make his mark in Euros

The Republic of Ireland’s Daryl Murphy in action against Switzerland’s Fabian Schär at the Aviva Stadium in March. Photo: Sportsfile
The Republic of Ireland’s Daryl Murphy in action against Switzerland’s Fabian Schär at the Aviva Stadium in March. Photo: Sportsfile

The over-30s in the Ireland squad don't need to be told that Euro 2016 in France is almost certain to be a case of au revoir to international football.

As one of the older men in the group, Daryl Murphy is aware of what's at stake and also what's on offer. So, for the 33-year-old, nothing will be left behind in his bid to, initially, make the 23-man squad and then make an impact once the action kicks off for Ireland on June 13.

Back in March, a calf injury sustained on international duty placed his Euro hopes in jeopardy, but the Waterford man insists he's now fully fit and ready for duty, thanks in no small part to his club manager, as Mick McCarthy, aware of the importance of the Euros to Murphy, decided not to rush his striker back into action but instead allowed him the time he needed to make a full recovery.

Murphy's grateful for that gesture from McCarthy, not the typical behaviour from a club manager and in stark contrast to Roberto Martinez, who was anything but enthusiastic about his Everton players going on international duty.

But the hard work really starts today, with the first training session at FAI HQ on Dublin's northside, time of an issue to a player like Murphy.

"It could be the last chance for a lot of us, the lads who are in our 30s. A few of us will probably not play in a major tournament again so you have to make the most of it," Murphy told The Herald over the weekend as he fine-tuned his own preparations for what's to come.

"I watched Euro 2012 in a pub in Waterford, I was gutted not to be involved but hopefully I have a chance this time."

Some players from the 35-strong squad assembled over the next week will be disappointed, and while Murphy appears to be higher up the ladder than Kevin Doyle and David McGoldrick, he's not taking that place for granted.

"I wouldn't say I am confident of going," he says. "I have been in the squad since Martin and Roy took over, I have played in a few big games and done alright but no one can be certain of going, the next week is a big week for a lot of players who want to push for places in the final 23. I want to be there but there are no guarantees."

That's why nothing will be left behind, no suggestion of ducking out of challenges to stay fit. "Injury in training is a risk you just have to take in football, it could happen anywhere," Murphy says.

"I can't go into training every day next week thinking 'I won't go in for that tackle as I don't want to get injured' because that's how you get injured, when your mind's not focused. I am sure all the lads will be hard at it this week, trying to impress."

Murphy is glad to be in with a chance, having recovered from injury, thanks to McCarthy's generosity. "I am feeling fine. I stayed back an extra week at the club to work with the physio, just to top up my fitness and stay in shape," he explains.

"I could have been involved in the last few games if we were going to be involved in the play-offs but the gaffer sat down with me and said there was no point in rushing things in case I aggravated the injury in any way, it was better to take is slow and make sure I was fit for Ireland.

"We all know how good the gaffer is and I think he knew this was the big chance for me to go to the Euros, probably the last opportunity for me to play in a major tournament as I doubt I'll get another chance.

"So I could have forced myself back for the last two games with the club but it would have been a risk to try to force myself back, so instead I had an extra week's work with the physio and I feel good.

"I had a good week, out running on the grass, testing myself in sprints, I felt fine after each bit of work and there was no reaction which was the main thing. I got a break with the family last week, it was nice to get a bit of sun but it's down to the hard work now.

"If I do make the squad I have every chance of starting. The gaffer has been good to me and I have started games where I never thought I'd be in the starting XI and we got some good results. The manager knows what I can do for the team, I think he trusts me to do the job if called upon."

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