Wednesday 20 March 2019

Irish 'forgotten' in Premier League as World Cup pain stays

HURTING: Ireland midfielder David Meyler speaks during yesterday’s press conference in Abbotstown. Photo: SPORTSFILE
HURTING: Ireland midfielder David Meyler speaks during yesterday’s press conference in Abbotstown. Photo: SPORTSFILE

The World Cup Finals are on the horizon but for David Meyler, the pain of Ireland's non-involvement has only intensified as he admits that the Republic should be there.

Instead of preparing for a month on Russian soil, the Irish team have been playing through a three-game series of matches, finishing with tomorrow's clash with the USA in Dublin, a send-off for John O'Shea.

Denmark will of course take part in the Finals and for Meyler, who captained Ireland in the home leg of the play-off defeat, the closeness of the event does not make things easier.

"It's very hard to accept. It does hurt, yeah. Because I still think we should be going to the World Cup. I'll watch it and be sitting there thinking we should be there. It's frustrating and it's disappointing. It's hard," says Meyler, now on the hunt for a new club following his exit from Hull City after six years.

He says he's a harsh critic of his own game and has watched the tape of the Danish defeat 20 times.

"You have to learn. You have to take the good with the bad. There are going to be games when I won't play well and you have to accept the criticism. There are going to be games when I play well and you take the praise. So you have to take both, look back and see what I can improve on," he says.

Meyler didn't have to look at print or online media to get some harsh criticism of his own display in the 2-0 loss to France as that came from another source - Cork hurling boss John Meyler, his dad.

"Even the France game the other night, what did I play, 30 minutes? My dad sent a big email through of about a hundred different things I did in the game. Dad, I only played a half an hour!" he jokes.

Meyler's club situation is no joke, though, as he's on his way out of Hull, unhappily so. He says he was due a contract extension from the club, but they were offering changed, lower terms, so Meyler took the hint and moved on.

He's had offers, including from the USA, but is confident of landing a deal in England, with a Championship move likely.

Meyler arrived on the scene in England when things were (relatively) healthy for Irish players there, with a Premier League debut for Sunderland in December 2009.

He was one of 34 players from the Republic to play in England's top flight that season - in the campaign just gone, only 17 Irishmen featured.

So, is Irish talent being left behind?

"I think yes would be the answer to your question. But we're not the only ones," he says. "You hear these bizarre stories of City and United buying eight and nine-year-olds from France and Spain. That's the way it's gone.

"There is still so much more we can do in Ireland because we have to create more players. It's becoming harder and harder.

"It's difficult. We've got Séamus (Coleman) who will play week-in, week-out for Everton. Young Declan (Rice) is playing every week for West Ham and then you have the Burnley lads. It is difficult.

"If you go back to '02, that World Cup team, Roy was captain and everyone was playing for a Premier League team. Now it's becoming harder.

"We are nearly being forgotten about in a way."

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