Norwich City boss Chris Hughton thrilled after Wes Hoolahan call-up
Norwich City boss Chris Hughton admitted he was delighted to see Wes Hoolahan back in the Republic of Ireland fold for this month's Dublin friendly against Greece. Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni has already indicated the 30-year-old midfielder will feature in his hometown and Hughton is in no doubt he can shine for both club and country.
'It's great for Wes,' he said. 'Whether it was a case of him (Trapattoni) watching him at the Arsenal game and that was the one that pushed him further forward I don't know. Wes is not a young man, and he has been producing consistently good football for the last few seasons.
'I think perhaps with the style or rather the shape that Trapattoni has played, it is a question of where he fits into that shape. Regarding his ability there is no doubt on that score, and I am delighted for him.
'I think he has the ability to play international football. If I look at the way the Irish team have played the last few years under the manager it has mainly been 4-4-2, so it is how he sees him settling into that. He can play that role off the front, the role Robbie Keane has done, and continues to do so well.'
Hughton believes Hoolahan is reaping the benefits of City's recent switch to two holding midfielders.
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'With Wes it is about the system you want to play and in recent years he has certainly operated more centrally,' he said. 'Then you have to decide whether you play him in an advanced midfield role or off the front. The closer he is to goal you would like to think with his ability that he can set up opportunities.
'Particularly in this division with the quality you are up against, you have to have periods of possession, otherwise it becomes very difficult, and the type of player Wes is and how he can link the play allows us to do that.'
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Trapattoni is poised for another fact-finding mission to Norfolk this weekend for Norwich's Premier League game against Stoke and the Italian has already pledged to deploy Hoolahan in the same advanced position against the Greeks.
'We know he is a beautiful player but he plays in this position behind the striker. Our system, until now, we tried this in the past with James (McClean). It was not positive. And in the past, we have needed two strikers in our system,' said Trapattoni. 'I have seen Hoolahan before, I know him very well. I have tried also to play one striker and we can see what he can do. Sure, he can play. We have to decide if it's the first half or the second half, but he will play a minimum of one half.
'Only on the pitch can he answer us. You'll only find out on the pitch if someone at international level is going to be up to it, or not up to it. If I don't try this, then I won't find out the answer. I will use him behind the striker. I couldn't say to him, go in midfield. If I call him, we go with one striker, like he does at Norwich.'
Trapattoni has also made contact with Hoolahan's City team-mate Anthony Pilkington regarding the English-born midfielder pledging his international allegiance to the Republic, who he represented at U21 level.
'I have sent an SMS,' Trapattoni told the Irish Independent. 'But with Pilkington, we need to ask. 'Do you want to stay?' Because we need to make the passport.'