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Thursday 14 December 2017

Hunt. We won't split like English

IRISH football would avoid the pain and heartache that is currently infecting England's national team because the squad and manager have a bond that's rare in world football, according to Stephen Hunt.

Having made his debut in San Marino back in 2007, Hunt is one of the more established members of an Irish squad which has qualified for the Euro 2012 finals, and Ireland's path to the finals over the next four months looks a lot smoother than the bumpy road ahead of manager-less England, whose plans are now in tatters.

"It's ideal for England, all that's gone on this week," says Hunt, speaking to the Evening Herald ahead of Wolves' vital derby with West Brom on Sunday.

"Usually they go to a finals tournament in perfect condition, with a manager in place, and there's an awful lot of pressure.

"Now that there is this turmoil in the squad, I think that will release the players in terms of the pressure.

"England is a different set-up to Ireland and there is a completely different level of pressure with the English team.

"We have more of a team structure than England, to a certain degree with them you have egos who want to bring their club football to the international stage and that's all they care about.

"We're so close-knit as a group that we have to perform as a team.

"We have a good bond in this Irish squad and it has only got stronger over the last three or four years. We know we can trust each other. Irish teams have always had that good team spirit but I think this group has become stronger and stronger," added Hunt.



Tactical

"It's difficult to deal with, it's a hard dressing room to manage and how you go about managing those high-profile players is not easy. I have been in England for 10 years and I know what a tough job it is to manage the English team, but I think that someone like Harry Redknapp is the right man to get them all to put their differences aside.

"If Harry Redknapp does go in there, I can't see him being too tactical, I think he will just let the players loose to express their own ability."

Thankfully, it's not a problem that the Irish players have to deal with, but Hunt -- drawing on his own experience of having an international team-mate who is also his brother (Reading striker Noel) -- admits that the whole John Terry/Anton Ferdinand saga, with Rio Ferdinand caught in the middle, would be a problem.

"It's not easy and it won't be easy for Rio Ferdinand given what's gone on. I have a brother playing in the game, if someone in the Irish team had slagged my brother off I'd find it hard, but you have to put differences aside and get on with it," added Hunt.

Getting on with it is something that's very much on Hunt's mind at the moment, as the Waterford-born player struggles to cope with the fact that he's lost his place in the Wolves team.

Hunt has not started a league game in five matches for Wolves and he expects to be on the bench for Sunday's relegation clash with West Brom.

"Obviously I haven't played for the last two or three weeks and that's been very disappointing," Hunt admits.

"I'm sure Kevin Doyle felt the same way when he was out of the team and as a player it's just something you have to deal with, you have to work even harder to get back into the team and that's what I have been doing. I have no doubt in my mind that I can get back into the team, I just have to convince the manager of that.

"Sometimes you need a break to freshen up your game so I will take this on the chin and move on.

"I am in a better frame of mind than I was two or three weeks ago. You can worry about silly things but all you can do as a footballer is get your head down and work harder, that's the only thing that will get you into the team.

"You can think too much about football as well, and I am probably one of the deeper thinkers when it comes to things like that, losing your place. So I have tried to let it go, relax and work as a hard as I can and retain that belief in my own ability."

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