Saturday 16 December 2017

Arter: 'No hiding places - we have to be brave on the ball'

Ireland midfielder Harry Arter in training yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland midfielder Harry Arter in training yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

As a man who picked up an impressive 12 yellow cards in 38 games for his club this season, Harry Arter is clearly not afraid of a tackle.

But the 27-year-old maintains that Ireland need to be brave on the ball and in possession more than any other areas of the game if they are to outwit Austria in the World Cup qualifiers at Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

Arter is still inexperienced at international level and should he be named in the team to face Austria - as expected though not definite - he will be making his full competitive debut.

The Cherries man denies that he's a "dirty" player on the back of that yellow card count, pointing out that his bookings tally didn't merit him a suspension, that he's only been sent off twice in his career and he sees himself more as a "high energy" footballer.

It's Arter's midfield nous which could see him get the nod to start ahead of the likes of Wes Hoolahan on Sunday and he sees midfield as a key area.

"Keeping the ball is a massive part of football. That comes down to the individuals who want the ball, it's down to the individuals to want the ball," says Arter.

"It's probably the hardest part of football, that people don't recognise, is making little angles to receive the ball and being brave enough to receive the ball in any position.

"One thing that I saw after the Uruguay game was that the possession was even, if you look at the passing and Uruguay's games, they dominate the ball against nearly everyone, you associate the South American sides with dominating possession but I feel it was very even.

"Getting on the ball is always the bravest part of football. It is easy to run around and not want the ball. But taking responsibility and receiving it in any area is vitally important."

International football has been a slow burner for the midfielder who had a long gap between his involvement - earning eligibility via a Sligo grandparent - at U17 level and his senior debut, against England, two years ago.

He made his competitive debut away to Austria in November but still rues the fact that injury deprived him of a place at Euro 2016 and it's only now, with five caps under his belt, that he feels more in tune with things.

"Yeah, I think the only way you feel that is if you're playing. The Austria game was a big moment for me, playing competitively was something I hadn't done to that point," says Arter.

"That was a huge night for me personally and, to go along with it, a great result. Unfortunately I missed out on the squads after that," adds Arter, again raising the topic of his commitment to the cause being questioned by his withdrawals from squads.

"This was something that I highlighted. I wanted to come away, I love coming away. I've got a really good group of lads here and see when you're here, you want to play and try and perform and Sunday (Uruguay) was a start of two games for me. Hopefully I'll start against Austria and try and do the same again.

"It (World Cup) would be a dream come true, like it would have been if I had gone to the Euros, the World Cup is the pinnacle of anyone's career and to be involved in that would certainly be my proudest moment, that will be in the back of my mind for the next year or so."

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