Monday 20 November 2017

Ireland says ball in Trap's court

STEPHEN IRELAND says that he will only end his international exile if he's approached by Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Corkman, who won his last cap in Slovakia in 2007, is in superb form for Aston Villa and was voted man of the match during Saturday's 1-1 draw against Everton, and Shay Given has praised the contribution of Ireland.

But the player says that international football is not on his mind. "It's not something I think about," Ireland stated. "I've not been approached in over two years so it's not really a question I have to answer. It is not a question that has come to me and I'll see when it does come to me. Other than that, I'm just going to concentrate on my club football."

Ireland believes he is close to recapturing his best form and has thanked Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish for the "trust" shown in him.

Midfielder Ireland experienced a disappointing debut season under the then Villa boss Gerard Houllier who claimed he needed to "work harder" and then loaned him out to Newcastle. But he has been given another chance at the midlands club - along with left-back Stephen Warnock - since McLeish's arrival last summer and is reaping the benefits of his first elongated spell of games.

Ireland defied an early dead leg to be chosen as the club's official man of the match for the 1-1 home draw with Everton with fans chanting his name.

He said: "I'm ready to show my best form. I'm getting fitter and you get that with a consistent run. I'm in a good place and working as hard as I can."

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