herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Hunt confident that 'loyal' Trap will give him a seat on plane to Poland

STEPHEN HUNT says he's not concerned about losing his place in the Ireland squad for the Euro 2012 finals with the long-serving Wolves man confident he will have a seat on the plane to Poland next June.

Hunt is one of the most established players in the squad, which is in Dublin preparing for tonight's clash with the Czech Republic.

Only six players (Shay Given, John O'Shea, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle) have been in the panel longer than Hunt.

Hunt has endured some tough times with his club in recent weeks as he has not started a league game since December and has played in just one of their last three games.

The 30-year-old is also under pressure at international level, with young guns like James McClean now making a challenge for a place in the squad, but Hunt feels he has done enough in the past to merit a place in the 23-man squad for the finals.

"Our manager with Ireland is very loyal. A lot does depend on injuries over the next few months. But this is a marathon, not a sprint," Hunt told the Herald. "You need to hit form at the right time, the manager is cute enough to see who is hitting form. Over the next two or three months it's up to me to prove that I deserve to be in that squad but I feel I can do that.



Marathon

"You have to be fresh going into the big games, I know the Ireland manager thinks that way. I'd rather have games with Wolves under my belt but I have to wait for that to happen," added Hunt.

"This is a marathon and I feel I will be in the Wolves team and in the Ireland squad for the finals."

Hunt points to the end-of-season games last term, where he was out of action for almost three months but worked hard to regain his fitness and ended up playing a part for club and country, including a role in that vital win away to Macedonia in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

"I came back and played in the last few games for Wolves and four games for Ireland, which was probably my most consistent run of games for the national team," he explains.

"So maybe it's a good thing for Ireland that I'm not playing too many games at the moment.

"It's not good for Stephen Hunt personally but it may be good for me in the long term, if I miss out a few games at this stage of the season I can refresh the batteries and be ready to go again.

"My style of play is getting around the place and making things happen and it can be difficult to play a lot of games in that style, you can do it but it's hard to do it at 100 per cent of your ability.



Refreshed

"So when I do get back in the Wolves team I will be refreshed and ready to go."

This week, it's the Czech Republic and tonight's friendly which is on our minds, but Hunt admits that events in Poland in June are always there too.

He's even working on his hunt for match tickets in advance.

"It's very difficult to take your mind off it, but June is still a long way away, and in football you can't look too far ahead, as it has a habit of coming back to bite you," Hunt admitted.

"I am very excited. I am trying to get tickets sorted at the moment for family and friends.

"If people come near me after that I'll struggle to get them tickets as I just want to be able to concentrate on the championships.

"I can't be worrying about getting tickets for people in May, by that stage I just want to be focused on the games, getting ready for the biggest tournament of my life."

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