Sunday 21 January 2018

Mannus focus on hoops only

Northern keeper wants to win title, no matter what

SHAMROCK Rovers star Tommy Stewart (below) says he can't understand why Nigel Worthington is giving the cold shoulder to the Northern Ireland stars who are doing the business for the title-chasing Hoops.

Rovers can seal their first Premier Division title in 16 years against Bray Wanderers tomorrow night, and a key part of their success this season has been the form of keeper Alan Mannus, midfielder Chris Turner and forward Stewart.

They were all born north of the Border, have played for the North at underage level and even won senior caps in the case of Mannus.

But so far, Worthington, the North's national team boss, has shown no interest in the trio and is unlikely to pay any attention if Rovers do manage to win the double this season.

"I played for Northern Ireland right through from youth to U23 level and from getting so many U21 caps and captaining them, to be totally banished is disappointing but I can only do my best at club level," said Stewart, a goal-scoring hero for Rovers in the Europa League this season.

"Shamrock Rovers put everything in their football and my priority is this club. But there has to be a sense of disappointment as international honours is the best you can do. I'm disappointed for Alan (Mannus) and Chrissy (Turner) and myself. You see boys doing well no matter what league it is, and if you're doing the business, you deserve to be called up."

The snub from Worthington is more of an issue for keeper Mannus as he was capped four times at senior level. Earlier this season he was called into the senior squad for friendly games but he decided not to travel as those friendlies against Turkey and Chile would have forced Mannus to miss a key league game against Bohemians in May.

"He (Worthington) wasn't happy when I told him," said Mannus.

"I know he's done it with others who have pulled out, been a bit funny with them. I knew the risks but I don't regret it. I don't think anything is happening. Nothing probably will happen. I don't agree with what the manager says but my opinion doesn't seem to matter to him.

"When I joined Rovers, when he spoke to me after, he was disappointed with it. 'It's done now and we'll deal with it' were his exact words to me. What does that mean?

"I had played a few games for Rovers and then I was back in the (North) squad again. He asked me had I been playing? I said 'should you not be aware of that, having me in the squad?' You could tell he wasn't too keen on players playing here.


"I knew the risks and I was prepared. It's happened and that's life, that's football. I haven't regretted it. I want to win things. When I joined Rovers I thought there was a chance to do that. I want to win no matter where I am."

The Northern trio will put international matters to the back of their minds for the next two weeks as they focus on the challenge of winning the league title tomorrow night and then trying to follow that up in the FAI Cup final next month. "We haven't won anything yet," Mannus said.

"But you've got to be positive, and think that we've worked too hard to let this slip away now."

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