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Doyle never stopped believing

17 Nov 2013 14:16:53

Doyle never stopped believing

Kevin Doyle insists he never gave up on his Republic of Ireland career despite being discarded by Giovanni Trapattoni as he slid down the divisions.

The Italian, who once described Doyle as one of the best strikers in England, if not Europe, during the early years of his reign, decided to dispense with his services after he suffered successive relegations with club Wolves.

However, the 30-year-old was recalled by interim manager Noel King last month and was retained when the Under-21s manager named the squad for new management duo Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane to lead into Friday night's 3-0 friendly victory over Latvia.

Doyle was handed his 56th senior cap as a late substitute against the Latvians and will hope for fourth taste of the action in Poland on Tuesday night as he attempts to further resurrect an international career he refused to let slip away.

Asked if he ever feared his days in a green shirt were over, he said: "No, not at all.

"You just put your head down, go again and get on with it, don't moan and try to get picked again. I did in the last squad and this time, so I will try to do the same.

"I was out for seven or eight months and it's a nice opportunity to be back involved again. I missed it, especially when the games were on, big games against Sweden and Austria in qualifiers.

"It makes you really want to come back and be involved again."

Doyle's fall from grace was little short of spectacular - Trapattoni's rave reviews during the summer of 2010 coincided with speculation linking him with a series of clubs including Arsenal.

However, Wolves' subsequent difficulties and a lack of form for his country took their toll and where once he had been the first-choice partner for skipper Robbie Keane, he slipped first out of the team and then out of the squad.

The former Reading frontman said: "It was tough, it was very tough. Four of us from Wolves went to the Euros and three or four months later, none of us were in the Ireland squad.

"The manager, Giovanni, told us at the time he felt with the morale at Wolves, it wouldn't have been good for us to come into the squad and I accepted that, I had no problems.

"It's just nice to be involved again."

Doyle's return to the international set-up came with his fortunes having improved dramatically at club level too - a 1-0 win at Notts Country on Saturday sent them to the top of Sky Bet League One - and he is hoping promotion, if not a title charge, will help to cement his place in O'Neill's long-term plans.

Asked if he was confident of doing that while playing his football in England's third tier, he said: "It makes it a bit more difficult, obviously, but I don't think of it that way. I just get on with it and see if I can impress.

"I am enjoying playing at Wolves and hoping to win something - and if not, get automatic promotion - so we will see what it brings with Ireland then.

"It's been fantastic, to be honest. It doesn't matter what division you are in when you are winning games.

"Yesterday we won and we went top of the league - I'm disappointed they went top without me, but it's just nice to be around the place and everyone is smiling, everyone is happy and we are up and challenging to get promoted.

"It's not been easy, though. Actually, it's been very difficult. We haven't walked away with any games, but it's been enjoyable to be part of it."

O'Neill's reign was launched in style on Friday evening, when Ireland were also boosted by news of Greece's play-off victory over Romania, which means the Republic should be among the second group of seeds for the Euro 2016 qualifying draw.

Trapattoni's men, of course, made it to the Euro 2012 finals but returned from Poland without a point, and Doyle is hopeful that the seeding and the expanded tournament will make life a little easier this time around.

He said: "It's another little thing that makes a difference. It's going to help.

"Obviously you don't know who is going to be in your group and we could be unlucky and get someone who is not really a third seed, but just happens to be lower-ranked.

"But it's bound to help us. Little things like that, little bits of luck, is what we need. Maybe it's a sign of a change in our fortunes."

Joey O'Brien was expected to leave the Republic squad on Sunday after undergoing a scan on a hamstring injury.

The West Ham defender was sent for tests on Saturday after reporting a problem during the warm-up ahead of the previous night's victory over Latvia.

Midfielder Andy Reid returned to his club, Nottingham Forest, on Saturday with a similar injury.

However, central defender Sean St Ledger, who was also a doubt, was expected to travel to Poland.


PA

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