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Wednesday 15 August 2018

'Trap needed a reminder'

Whelan relieved to show boss his worth in season on the sidelines at Stoke

LAST NIGHT'S win for Ireland at home to Wales could prove to be very costly for Glenn Whelan when he returns to club duties tomorrow following the international break.

His manager at Stoke City, Tony Pulis, is a proud Welshman and is expected to manage the Welsh side at some point, so he could decide to earn some revenge on some of the Irish players who inflicted a 3-0 win over Gary Speed's side and condemned Wales to a fourth successive defeat.

"I presume Tony Pulis was watching the game, but he might give myself and Jon Walters extra work in training because we beat his country 3-0," laughs Whelan.

Joking aside, last night was a big occasion for Whelan, winning his 26th cap. It was a very rare taste of 90-minute action in a game, something that he has been denied at Stoke this season as after spending most of the Premier League campaign on the bench.

Fear

He hasn't started a league game for City since September and while the arch- loyalist Trapattoni has stood by him, one of his main acolytes since he took over as Ireland manager, there was a fear that a lack of games with his club would endanger his place in the Irish side.

"I needed to get a game in last night. I wanted to show the Ireland manager that I am still looking after myself even though I haven't been getting much football with the club, I'm still the same player, I still work as hard as ever and have the same attitude. I needed to show that to Trapattoni to stay in the team for the next game," Whelan told the Herald after playing a part in the 3-0 win, Whelan teeing up Ireland's opening goal with a nice one-two with scorer Darron Gibson.

"It was great just to get 90 minutes under my belt, like every player I want to play as much as I can but I haven't been able to do that all that much due to my club situation over the last few weeks, few months even. So it meant a lot to me to get 90 minutes in and get a win.

"I was involved in Gibbo's goal so that was a nice boost for me. Just to be in the squad and be involved was great on a personal level as I need games.

"The game was a bit dead early on. Wales came here and played with one up front and tried to make things hard for us.

"The crowd wasn't brilliant last night in terms of numbers but with the way things are now in Ireland with the economy and all the unemployment you can't expect a full house. It's up to us to give the crowd a lift and once we got going in the second half and scored a goal you could hear the crowd starting to sing.

"The clean sheet was a big thing for us ahead of Macedonia. People will look at the result and see it as an easy win but we had to fight hard for it.

"It was like a derby game as we play against the Welsh players week in week out with our clubs. We wanted the bragging rights for when we go back to our clubs later this week. It was a 3-0 win but it was harder than the scoreline suggested.

"I had a chat with (Wales defender)Danny Collins after the game. I'm good friends with him from Stoke, we were having a bit of banter last week in training about who would end up with bragging rights from the game so I'll have a smile on my face when I go back."

Extra

It's a credit to Whelan and his attitude to the game that he's stayed positive despite the lack of opportunities with Stoke, who decided to keep hold of the Dubliner when the transfer window was open last month.

"I am working very hard to try and get back into the Stoke team. I'm training as hard as ever and even doing extra work to make sure I stay on top of things, it would be nice to get involved with Stoke again and I have to wait for that to happen," he says.

"A move just didn't happen in the window for me. A move away was close as the transfer window was about to close but Stoke were looking to get some players in and that didn't happen so they wanted to keep me.

"I haven't fallen out with the manager at Stoke or anything like that. I am still working hard and I'm still hopeful of getting a chance and a decent run in the side soon enough, but I need to be playing games at this stage of my career. I'm not getting any younger and I want to be playing every week with Stoke and in every game with my country. That's just the way I am, I'll never lose that hunger.

"There's nothing I can do now in terms of a move as the window is closed but I will look at it very seriously in the summer if things don't change. I have had a few chats with the manager and he knows my feelings. He said he will look after me, so if things haven't changed by the end of the season.

Relationship

"I am sure that the manager will do his best to get me out and let me leave the club if I'm not going to be in his plans. But I still have a very good relationship with the Stoke manager, I have never fallen out with him or anything like that. I'm just not in his team and I need to be playing if I am to stay in the Irish team.

"We have done ok so far and we had a good win last weekend but we have some hard games on the way, and we're still in the FA Cup. Hopefully I can still be involved, if I get a chance in the side -- be that in a Cup game or whatever -- I have to show the gaffer that I am fit and ready to play."

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