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Tuesday 16 October 2018

Harry's happy ever Arter in Irish set-up

Cherries star has recovered from blip in Tbilisi to focus on his World Cup dream

Harry Arter and Callum O'Dowda during Republic of Ireland squad press conference at FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin Photo: Sportsfile
Harry Arter and Callum O'Dowda during Republic of Ireland squad press conference at FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin Photo: Sportsfile

The boy called Arter felt like an interloper when it came to Ireland's success at Euro 2016.

But the Bournemouth midfielder plans to be front and centre when it comes to the World Cup in 2018, as Harry Arter faces one of the biggest tests of his fledgling international career on Saturday night.

A late bloomer with Ireland (he was 26 when he made his senior debut), Arter had some brief tastes of international football before he was handed a starting role in the qualifier away to Georgia in June.

If that was his audition, the player fluffed his lines. Arter was replaced after an hour of indifferent (poor,even) football in Tbilisi and was dropped for the next game, at home to Moldova, only to be restored to the side for the key qualifier away to Wales last month.

Productive

"On a personal note it was vital because my last game previous to that was Georgia and it obviously wasn't a productive game for me or for the team," Arter admits.

Ireland midfielder Harry Arter chats with Ireland team-mate Jeff Hendrick during squad training at Abbotstown yesterday
Ireland midfielder Harry Arter chats with Ireland team-mate Jeff Hendrick during squad training at Abbotstown yesterday

"As a player, first and foremost your main objective is to make sure that the team wins and then you want to perform.

"We didn't lose in Georgia but it was, personally, really disappointing so I was thankful to the manager for giving me the opportunity in a massive game and I was just pleased that I was part of a positive result.

"I'd like to think I'm quite level-headed when it comes to playing a good game or a bad game. I think I can put it to one side regardless of the performance.

"You can't dwell on things as a player because you end up finding yourself in a hole. But naturally, you have that feeling inside when things haven't gone that well - but to be part of such a great result in Wales was great, and it's one of those where you're just looking forward to the next break."

Arter was on the fringes of things before Euro 2016 and, only for injury, would have travelled to France.

Instead he watched the games while on holiday in Spain, an outsider looking in. Even boss Martin O'Neill remarked that Arter was "quiet" when it came to making his presence felt in the camp. So he feels that the win in Cardiff was the moment when he Belonged.

"That's part of the reason why the manager might have picked up on me being a bit quiet. I didn't feel I had been part of anything with the lads up until that point," admits Arter.

"When we qualified for the Euros it was a strange sort of feeling because I was buzzing for the lads, but I felt deep down inside that I didn't really contribute enough to be really part of it.

"This time around, t was nice for me personally to be part of such an important game. Those things are bonding, in a way."

"After the first couple of trips I felt comfortable with the lads. It was that feeling inside that I didn't feel I'd contributed to the team on the pitch yet. Confidence comes from purely on playing. That's the way I look at things.

"I just wanted to get some games under my belt. The Austria (away) game, for me, was a big step and each game you play in you just try and have a natural progression; each game you play in you try and improve and continue to be part of it.

"It was going well up to the Georgia game and I'm really thankful to the manager for giving me such a big opportunity against Wales and I'm just thankful I was part of a great night."

Now, it's all about Denmark. Arter has already done battle in midfield with their key man, Christian Eriksen, in the Premier League, and came off bruised, Bournemouth trounced 4-0 by Spurs that day.

"We set up playing 4-4-2 that day and these players, they find space," he admits.

"We were very loose and you cannot give players of Eriksen's quality, and Tottenham's quality, so much space. But even in those games, when you play against players like that, those are the games that you learn most in, how to perform next time against them. That giving them space and time, is not something you can afford to do.

"Whenever he gets the ball, you've got to try to get to him as quickly as you possibly can, try not to let him turn on the ball and see the whole pitch and don't stand off him.

"These players who are world class, they always find space, and pockets that you wonder how they get into it. It's good going into a game knowing his strengths, something we've got to do and try and close him down as much as possible."

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