You’re Either Irish Or You’re Not

There have been several press reports this week about Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan finally declaring himself for international football with the Republic of Ireland.

From the manager’s point of view, Hogan’s inclusion would add competition for places and that’s what Martin O’Neill will want. He can only pick from a select group of players and Scott Hogan has made himself available, so quite rightly Martin is going to pick him. But Hogan hasn’t been finding the net regularly for Aston Villa so we’re hopeful that he can start scoring, because when he does so on a regular basis it’ll make it easier for Martin O’Neill to pick him and he’ll give us an option where we don’t have many as it stands.

We only really have Jon Walters and Shane Long who are going to be able to score goals consistently so it’s a good area for the manager to have options in.

I’m still a bit unsure as to why Hogan wouldn’t have made the decision to play for Ireland when the first contact was made a year or 18 months ago, whenever it may have been. It makes you feel very uneasy when a player seems to wait on the call up from England before actually committing to us. An England call up looks unlikely to happen now for Hogan given that he’s 25 so it looks like he’s decided to come on board and play for Martin O’Neill.

I don’t think it’s Martin O’Neill’s job to go chasing players, he’s got enough on his plate trying to get the side prepared for the games. He’s well within his rights to go and ask the player but…

if he doesn’t come and play for us there and then, that’s it as far as I’m concerned.

If the newspapers are to be believed this week, it looks as though it was Scott Hogan who instigated this by contacting the FAI and Martin O’Neill expressing a wish to come on board so I think that’s a good sign going forward, but the one thing it does do is makes things a little uneasy for Seanie Maguire.

He’s just got his first call up having moved over to Preston North End, I saw him against Sheffield Wednesday and he played quite well on the day. He’s made a good start to the season but just hasn’t been able to find the net yet.


Just Say Yes
I was around the Republic of Ireland squad for many years and this issue arose on a few occasions where a player was rumoured to be joining up with us but was also waiting on the call from England or another country. I was always uneasy with it and it sat uneasy with many of the other players in the dressing room too. Especially players who had come through the Irish youth system and were all of a sudden sitting beside players who had been indecisive about playing for us.

For me it was…

You’re either Irish or you’re not, you either play or you don’t.

That was always in my head growing up, I wanted to play for Ireland. I understand that some lads, some of whom are my friends, wouldn’t have had us down as first choice but when they were asked they did commit and once they were called up they gave it their all. I have no gripe with that but I don’t like players waiting for another nation to call them before actually declaring for us.

Plenty To Prove
That’s what seems to me has happened with Scott Hogan so I think he’s got a lot to do with the Irish public to convince them that he’s fully committed to us and to prove that he’s prepared to go the extra yard to play for us. And that’s especially when it comes to friendlies over the summer or other games that plenty would be tempted to pull out of.

Scott Hogan has got to put that extra yardage in going forward, but once he puts the green shirt on he’ll get proper support from the fans, that much is a given. They will back the players to the hilt.

Diego Costing Chelsea
Diego Costa meanwhile clearly isn’t happy at Chelsea and you can’t change his point of view, that’s how he’s feeling. But of course as the saga continues there is no doubt that it is having a negative impact on the dressing room.

Last season Chelsea had Matic in midfield and Costa up front and they had so much strength whenever they played, Costa especially gave them a real spark. Right now they need that stability and not only on the pitch. I think it will affect them off the pitch too and…

if and when he finally leaves the club things will become more settled.

Right now it’s putting more pressure on Antonio Conte and the players as they continue to be asked about it in press conferences and interviews. Looking at Chelsea last weekend all doesn’t seem well and it’ll only get worse if they come away from Wembley at the weekend having been defeated by London rivals Tottenham.