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Tuesday 14 August 2018

'Competition for places a positive thing' - Doherty

CHALLENGE: Ireland and Wolves full-back Matt Doherty. Pic: Sportsfile
CHALLENGE: Ireland and Wolves full-back Matt Doherty. Pic: Sportsfile

It's the toughest gig possible in Irish football: dislodging Séamus Coleman from the right-back slot in the national team.

But Wolves man Matt Doherty says he hopes that Premier League football with his club next season will aid his bid to become more of a regular with the international side.

At 26, Doherty is established at club level, ready for what will be his ninth season with Wolves and he was almost an ever-present as the midlands club won the Championship title this year.

But caps have been harder to come by as Monday's appearance away to France was only his second game for the Ireland senior side.

Swords lad Doherty is eligible for Holland as his mother is from the Netherlands but he swats away any talk of opting for the Oranje. "My mam is Dutch but I'm green," he jokes.

But he is keen to push on with Ireland, Doherty hoping to benefit from a return to the Premier League, where he made two appearances for Wolves in the 2011/12 season.

"There will be three Irish right-backs in the Premier League next season. We'll come in snapping at heels for the matches. It has to be a positive thing," Doherty says.

"I'm a confident person in general and at the time back then I would have backed myself. I always thought I was ready but was playing at left back then," added Doherty of his struggles to even make the Irish squad before his debut in Turkey earlier this year.

"Maybe it wasn't so realistic. Now that I've played well since coming to the right side - probably the most difficult position to get in the Ireland team - I've got back into the squad through performances.

"I've worked on my game and getting the rewards by being part of the Ireland squad for the last few trips.

"You've got three good left-backs now. They're all naturally left footed, if I was a player I'd want the manager to be playing a left-footed player there.

"I can play there well but it's not up to me. The main position is where you want to play. It's going to difficult but if I continue playing well in the Premier League next season, who knows?"

Apart from the exposure that comes with Premier League football, Doherty is looking forward to a reduced schedule, compared to the grind that is the Championship.

"Not having a Tuesday game every week," he says when asked about the main benefit of top flight football.

"The nice stadiums don't mean that much to me, just testing yourself against top players, to see if I can hack it.

"There will be players that I've never played against, it will be interesting to see how I get on."

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