IT'S NOT A step backwards but ultimately a step forwards.
That's how Ireland international David Meyler sees things today as he prepares to complete his move from Sunderland to Hull City on a permanent basis.
The trend of Irish players dropping down a division was prominent in the summer, as internationals such as Keith Andrews, Simon Cox, Leon Best and Greg Cunningham all dropped down a division while no Irish player made a move up to the Premier League from another club.
It's a similar tale in the January window, as Meyler and Robbie Brady are almost certain to quit the Premier League and drop down to the Championship with a move to Hull. Meyler, who cut his teeth with Cork City and then came through not one but two serious knee injuries to keep his career alive, admits to a touch of sadness in leaving Sunderland. But the Cork native says there's not a hint of doubt in his mind about what he's doing, as he fully expects to be back in the Premier League next season - in the Hull City colours.
"I have been there for four and a half years. I have a lot of friends there at Sunderland and the fans were always great to me, a real touch of class. Sunderland is a special place and I will be sad to leave, but the show must go on and I have to further my career, and that will be away from Sunderland," Meyler told the Evening Herald today as his advisers completed the final details on his transfer, which should be confirmed in the next 24 hours.
"Every footballer just wants to play every week, if you're not injured you just want to be involved. It can be mentally frustrating, and with the two injuries I have suffered, I've spent a lot of time on the sidelines and had to reflect a lot, so that has helped me with my mental toughness.
"To come back and be part of something, play every week, is all I ever wanted. But the opportunity never really arose at Sunderland, it was always stop-start for me there. Steve Bruce gave me the opportunity to come to Hull and play regular football and it has gone well, for me and for the team, the manager has been delighted with me and my family is over the moon with how things have gone here.
"When I sat down with Steve Bruce a few months ago, he said he was going to take this team into the Premier League and he said he needed me to be part of that. I want to be part of that and so does Robbie Brady.
"I have been fortunate to play in 20-odd games in the Premier League with Sunderland. I have had a taste of it and I want more, that's the ambition I have. I have come here to help Hull get into the Premier League and Robbie has the same approach," says the strong-willed midfielder.
"Being there for the last two months has been brilliant for me. I played 10 games and scored three goals and that's been great for my confidence. It's a great squad and the manager is brilliant with me. I have obviously worked with him before at Sunderland," added Meyler, who was signed for Sunderland by Roy Keane and was then given a run in the side by Bruce, though games were harder to come by under Martin O'Neill.
"The opportunity came to move permanently and it was time for me to move on from Sunderland. This team looks like it has the potential and the ability to go into the Premier League and that's where I want to be. I want to be part of that.
"The manager is a great character. He's always laughing and spending time with us. But there's a strong Irish presence here as well with Paul McShane, Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn, there's a great buzz around the place. A lot of the players are young, they're ambitious and want to play in the Premier League and that's where we are headed, I hope."