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Monday 20 November 2017

Lawrence Stoking it up

Friendlies give Irish winger the chance to put himself in shop window

IF YOU'RE keen to find a new club for yourself, scoring a tasty goal against a World Cup-bound team in a game shown across the world on live TV is a pretty good way to put yourself in the shop window.

And that's exactly what Liam Lawrence, on his way out of Stoke City this summer after an unhappy season, did when he scored his second inter-national goal in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Paraguay in the RDS. Not only did he place himself in a more prominent position in that window, he increased his value, as one of his team-mates noted.

"The first thing Whelo (Glenn Whelan) said to me in the dressing room after the game on Tuesday was that I had just added another two million quid to my transfer fee, I hope that's not the case," joked Lawrence after yet another impressive display from the former Sunderland midfielder.

"I did well but I want to do well again in the next game, against Algeria tomorrow. That is is a showcase for me now. I have stated my intentions in terms of my club situation and said that I want to go somewhere else, so the two Ireland games are massive for me. I did well on Tuesday, and if I can do well tomorrow night I might catch the eye.

"That's not a bad ratio now, seven Ireland games and two goals, I think most strikers would be proud of a strike rate like that.

"I was eager to score, I had a couple of good scoring chances in some of the big games in the qualifiers, Italy and France especially, and I didn't manage it. I scored against South Africa and Paraguay now, two teams who will be at the World Cup finals, so that's a nice stat to have on my CV.

"I was just happy we won the game on Tuesday, we hadn't won in our last few matches so it was nice to get the victory and we deserved the win as we worked hard for it against a very good South American side," he added.

"It's been a hard season for me at club level, so being over here in Dublin is great for me, a real boost. Even to play in the two training games last week was good for me in terms of fitness and sharpness. I got another 70 minutes on Tuesday against Paraguay and that was nice for me."

Tomorrow's game against Algeria is a superb chance for the midfielder to secure an exit from Stoke as he feels he has no long-term future at the club. Lawrence started only 17 games for Stoke in all competitions last season and has grown frustrated with his role as a substitute.

"I spoke to Stoke about a month ago and told them that I want to leave, that I am looking for a fresh start and that I want to play more regularly. We spoke very amicably, the manager said he'll try and help me out and if it's possible for me to move in a deal that suits the club, I can move on," he added, though Lawrence has dismissed talk that a move to Wolves -- managed by his former Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy -- is a done deal.

"I have heard nothing from Wolves. I have said that I would like to work with Mick McCarthy again, he was my manager at Sunderland and I got on great with him then, so that is very attractive for me. But I have heard nothing from Wolves, or any other club. So I am not going anywhere at the minute, until things change," he says.

Kevin Doyle -- who is himself the subject of transfer speculation -- has already said that he'd love to see his international team-mate at Molineux, and this week Lawrence admitted his admiration for the Wolves hitman, who set up his winning goal.

"Kevin is a fantastic player to have in the side. I think every Premier League club would love to have someone like Doyler in their side. He works so hard and creates things for other players. He doesn't get the glory and he doesn't get the credit he deserves but he was superb on Tuesday. It looked simple, a chest down for me, but it was a very important lay-off and that was the goal which won us the game," he said.

"Kevin Doyle chested it down to me, I always play off his flicks and try to get on the end of something, I usually leave them to Robbie Keane but on Tuesday I saw I had a chance. I told Keano to leave it to me, he left it for me thank God, and I got a nice strike and a decent finish."

The emergence of Whelan and Keith Andrews from obscurity to a central role in the Irish team shows that once a player catches the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland manager tends to retain that faith.

Whelan famously profited from the fact that he travelled to Portugal for a summer training camp just after Trapattoni took over, while players like Lee Carsley and Andy Reid missed the trip to the Algarve -- and have not played for Ireland since.

Opportunity

This represents a real opportunity for Lawrence as wingers Aiden McGeady and Stephen Hunt, as well as Andy Keogh, who has also been used in a wide role by Trapattoni, are not in Dublin. Now the Stoke man can stake a claim at the expense of the injured Hunt and McGeady.

"I suppose I am the man in possession of the shirt now but I have to keep it up," he said. "Tuesday was a chance for me to show the manager that I should be in the team, that I am worth keeping in the starting 11. I scored and we won so hopefully that will stand me in good stead with Mr Trapattoni.

"He didn't say too much to me after the game. I find with him that if he's happy he is quiet and doesn't need to say much. He is at his loudest when things aren't the way he wants them and if he's unhappy. He just said well done, so that'll do for me."

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