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Saturday 3 December 2016

Quinn ready for big stage

Patient midfielder not fazed by Zlatan battle in Euro opener

Stephen Quinn, in action against Jeff Hendrick during squad training in Versailles yesterday. Picture Credit: David Maher / Sportsfile
Stephen Quinn, in action against Jeff Hendrick during squad training in Versailles yesterday. Picture Credit: David Maher / Sportsfile

When Ireland took on three of the best sides in Europe in Poland four years ago, Stephen Quinn was earning his wage in the English third tier and was so far off the radar that an international call-up looked to be way beyond the bounds of possibility.

June 2016 finds the Dubliner getting ready to take on one of the biggest names in world, not just European, football with Monday's clash with Sweden.

We've all heard of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though it's doubtful that the Swede knows who Stephen Quinn, or Reading FC, are.

Not that this bothers Quinn. "Would I fancy snapping at Ibrahimovic's heels? Most definitely, yeah," says the confident Dubliner.

"I keep having little dreams about it, having little butterflies in my stomach so yeah, if selected, I'm more than ready."

Quinn has a chance, though not a guarantee, of starting against the Swedes on Monday but while midfielders like Darron Gibson and Stephen Hunt were denied the chance to play at Euro 2012, Quinn will, almost certainly, get on the field at some stage over the next three games in France.

He's played a big part in qualification and, significantly, started in midfield in Martin O'Neill's first competitive game in charge of the Republic, that hard-fought but vitally important 2-1 win away to Georgia.

And Quinn, a product of Cherry Orchard who had a brief (one game) League of Ireland career with St Patrick's Athletic, feels there's an edge in the squad with a batch of players potentially playing.

"I think everyone has got a chance, the players are here, they're playing at a good level, there is quality in the side you know but obviously the manager is going to look at the opposition and judge it by that as well," he says.

"Everyone is pretty much available, Jonny Walters and Robbie Brady are back training, James McCarthy as well, we're nearly close to a full squad, everyone is nearly available.

"Everyone can think they have a chance of playing, it's down to the manager now what team he selects.

"Obviously we're looking at the opposition and seeing how we can counter what they have."

The Quinn family have made their mark across various levels of the Irish game, a few nephews currently impressing at schoolboy level, as Stephen followed the path of older brother Alan by winning senior caps, Stephen's debut arriving at the age of 27.

"Yeah, it was a long time coming with Ireland waiting for my debut really because I got picked (in the squad) under Stan Staunton a long time ago," he said.

"Then Trap came in and I didn't get involved much at all, only towards the end of it. It was great to follow in Alan's footsteps.

"But this is the pinnacle now, this Euros, it is the pinnacle of my career and I want to play as much as I can in it and I'm available and ready for selection," added Quinn, yet to score in his 15 appearances.

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