Sunday 19 January 2020

Doherty believes he can play in same side as Seamus

On a high after Premier League heroics, Wolves man will bide his time with Ireland

Republic of Ireland's Matt Doherty at the official launch of the new team suit for 2019 from sponsor Benetti Menswear at the Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland's Matt Doherty at the official launch of the new team suit for 2019 from sponsor Benetti Menswear at the Aviva Stadium

It's one of the big puzzles in Irish football.

At a time when the number of players from the Republic of Ireland in the Premier League is at an all-time low, the Irishman who was the highest finisher in England's top flight last season, Wolves man Matt Doherty, can't even get into the Ireland side.

Ignored by Martin O'Neill, and then hauled off early in the second half away to Gibraltar by O'Neill's successor, Mick McCarthy, Doherty will watch Friday's game in Denmark from the bench, unless something happens to Seamus Coleman.

Doherty is in the unfortunate position of being in the pecking order behind the one outfield player who is undroppable. He admits that's frustrating but something he will deal with but he does stand over his record and insists that while the experiment of him and Coleman being on the same side in Gibraltar was not a roaring success, it could be revisited.

"I don't look back at it that much. I might look back and think 'was I really that bad?' We will have a talk and think but I don't think it was that bad," Doherty says when asked about the experiment of playing the two right backs in the same team, a plan which McCarthy abandoned 11 minutes into the second half when Robbie Brady replaced Doherty.


"It didn't work, but what worked that day?

"We believe we can play together but we have to wait and see. It might happen again and everything could work. It was one of them games, one of those days where it didn't come off, but we still did some nice things. We still linked up a few times and it wasn't a total disaster.

"The more you do it, the more you become accustomed to each other's way of playing. That was first time we ever played.

"We believe we can work together down that side. At the end of the day, I understand he (McCarthy) is going to pick one of us at right-back. Whoever plays has the full support of the other.

"I've never come here with a guarantee to play so nothing has really changed so we'll just have to wait and see.

"If I do play, I'll try and do the best I can and if I don't play, I'll support Seamus. Like I've said before, Seamus and I are quite close, good friends around the camp. Whoever plays will have the backing of the other.

"I know Seamus obviously plays to a high level. I play to a high level as well.

"It's just one or the other. He's just got to pick one. And like I said, there's no hard feelings at all. Whoever plays, we'll support each other, they'll have that backing. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who plays once we win the game, that's the most important thing."

Doherty fills a role others have occupied before at right back, unable to get capped as higher-ranked players were just ahead in the international pecking order, one of the reasons why Stephen Carr has over 100 Premier League games on his record before he got a competitive cap.

"I'll keep training, I'll keep playing as well as I can and we're probably spurring each other on really. I'm trying to get ahead of him, he's trying to get ahead of me. it's a good thing that it's making us both want to improve and get better," added Doherty.

With a seventh-place finish in the Premier League last season, Wolves could hardly have done better, the bonus of Europa League football to come.

Doherty knows that going one better and breaking into the top six will be hard, especially with the added burden of Thursday night football in Europe, though their FA Cup run ending at the semi-final stage was a blow.

"It almost went perfectly, the only glitch was the semi-final against Watford. That was really tough to take, it affected us for a couple of weeks. We were sickened after that. Not the loss, the manner of the loss and throwing it away at the end," he says.

"It's time to kick on. With Wolves now we're in the Europa League qualifiers and with the way Wolves think, we'll be trying to get into the group stage first

"And I know the way the manager thinks - in his head he will be trying to win the Europa League.

"If you look at our results from last year, a lot of our bad results were against teams from the bottom five or six. If you can improve on that 50pc you'd have a better season.

"The season will be difficult but the manager and players, we can all get better and improve," added Doherty, who will celebrate 10 years at Wolves, after a 2010 move from Bohemians, at the end of next season.

"I've had enough manager and managed to survive. It was worth it for me now, the success that we're having. I'm glad it's worked out this way."

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