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Friday, February 8, 2013
It is not a case of being wise after the event to suggest that Wes Hoolahan was left in the international wilderness for far too long by Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
So if the obstinate Italian was getting a bit of stick on Wednesday night after substitute Hoolahan scored his first goal for his country in the 2-0 win over Poland, he had it coming.
Trapattoni seemed a shade reluctant to join in the goal celebrations with more extrovert assistant Marco Tardelli, and did not mention the Norwich City forward when asked in his TV interview straight after the game which players had impressed him.
It was an omission picked up quickly by Sky Sports expert and former Republic striker Niall Quinn, who said Hoolahan had not been watched often enough and the Irish management team had not realised how important he was to Norwich or taken his claims seriously enough.
Quinn told viewers: “I was a little bit disappointed Trapattoni didn’t make mention of him because he was asked the question who impressed.
“As anyone who was at the game knows, he (Hoolahan) brought something really good.”
Applauding the goal for “great control and a really good finish”, Quinn said: “We looked at the first half, we spoke at half-time about the fact there was no creativity, no passing, just giving it away.
“He’s like a little dynamo, he was different. He’s like the joker in the pack in some respects and I really think Trapattoni should mention him a bit more and perhaps understand that he can do a really good job for us.”
Fellow pundit and former international Kevin Kilbane was another in the Hoolahan fan club.
He said: “He’s 30 years of age but even in his 20s when he first came over from Ireland, at Blackpool and on to Norwich, he’s had a really good career and it’s been recognised now.
“I hope it’s not too late and he can still have a good career at international level but it maybe should have been two or three years earlier at least.
“Wes is certainly a really good option for the team. The only problem is Trapattoni has been reluctant to pick him over the years, that’s the thing, so he’s still inexperienced but the goal will give him a lot.”
Trapattoni argued later on in his Press conference that age, and the fact he prefers to field two out-and-out strikers, may have worked against Hoolahan.
He said: “He is not old, but we wanted to look at the new players, young players like James McCarthy.
“I also like to play with two strikers because if you play with only one striker, the opposition may think you fear them.
“Hoolahan, we have seen many times and I have said many times to Marco, it’s a pity. But maybe we have overlooked him because in every game we have seen him play for his club, he has played very well in this position. In the future, we will consider this.”
City boss Chris Hughton, the former Republic full-back, certainly sympathises with his Irish star forward.
“I was delighted for Wes because he was certainly one who had to wait a while and someone who was on the radar for quite some time,” he said. “It is always a special moment to make your debut but then if you are an offensive player to get that first goal. He’ll be on a little bit of a high and rightly so.”
Hughton said Hoolahan was unlucky not to have had a run in the Irish side earlier.
He said: “At international level, it’s always a little bit more difficult for players outside the Premier League. But of course, Wes was very involved last season. It’s not as if he was a bit part, he played a lot of games so they must have been aware of him. It just comes down to choices. With Trapattoni over the last couple of years he has not made too many changes. He has had his core squad and kept to that. Maybe that is the reason but at least he is in the frame now and hopefully he stays there.”