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Monday 18 June 2018

Harry's game time

Arter looks for Ireland lift after woes with Cherries

HUNGRY: Harry Arter is keen to play for Ireland after seeing little action for Bournemouth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
HUNGRY: Harry Arter is keen to play for Ireland after seeing little action for Bournemouth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Harry Arter can't say for certain that he has a future with his current Premier League club.

But the midfielder will spend the next few days aiming to convince his manager that he has a role, a big role, to play at international level. Arter is in the frame for Ireland's game away to France on Monday at the tail end of a difficult season with his club.

And the Bournemouth player says he won't let anything, not even some nasty online comments about his commitment to the Irish cause, distract him from becoming a key player with Ireland.

Arter is one of Ireland's Premier League contingent who badly needs some game time in the France/USA double-header after a disappointing season, where he started just 11 Premier League games for the Cherries. He hinted at a falling-out with manager Eddie Howe midway through the season, but says they are now on the same page.

"Things I may have said to him in January, he may have taken personally, and the same from him to me, and you get caught up a little in that, rather than looking at the bigger picture," says Arter of Howe.

"I still have three years left at Bournemouth, and the respect between me and him, and the relationship I have with the players and the fans means there is no reason why I cannot go back there next season and start again.

"Where we were in January, compared to where we are now, is completely different.

"Next season is huge for the club and myself. My only focus is to train as well as I can. I missed the last three or four weeks of the season at Bournemouth through injury.

"I want to get as fit as I can be, ready for France and the USA. It's an opportunity for me to perform. I'm very thankful to the manager for putting me in the squad - I'm not overly experienced at international level.

"It's been four/five months since my last game for Bournemouth. Before that, I hadn't played consistently since October.

"I'm thankful for the manager to give me this opportunity. The pressure is on to perform and prove to him that I'm still capable at his level.

"I feel the opportunity for the players who are not capped at this level, and for the experienced players too, is to show they're ready to carry Ireland next season and try and make it successful."

Abuse

Whether he moves clubs or not this summer, Arter's commitment to the national team has not wavered, despite some abuse he took online amid reports - false reports - in 2016 that he was about to defect to England.

"There was a rumour I pulled out because I was debating whether to play for Ireland or to declare for England. I can see why people were aggrieved by that, but there was no truth in it," he says.

"I felt my Irish career to this point has staggered a little bit. It's been unfortunate and frustrating. The Euros, I picked up an injury the day the squad was announced; there's always been some niggles. I feel fit now.

"I've always been committed to Ireland, even at underage level. There were opportunities to declare for England at U16 and U17 level, it was never in my mind to do (so). I played for Ireland since 14/15, the culture and togetherness here is unique and very special.

"I've loved every minute of being in the squads. I feel now it's time to try and establish myself as a permanent fixture in the squad. The manager has made it clear he's changed the dynamic of the group with new faces. It's down to me to make sure I continue to be picked."

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