Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan dismisses club versus country spat over heel injury ahead of Republic’s Euro 2016 play-off test
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan insists there was no club versus country stand-off behind his surprise omission for the Republic of Ireland's vital Euro 2016 qualifying finale against Poland as he prepares to grab his second chance in Friday's play-off, first leg trip to Bosnia.
Hoolahan is poised to return to Martin O'Neill's starting line up in Zenica as the Irish bid to make up for their near miss in the group stage to reach next summer's finals. The Republic lost out to Germany and Poland for automatic qualification, with Hoolahan limited to a 20-minute cameo against the Poles in a damaging 2-1 away defeat.
The 33-year-old had starred in the 1-0 win against World Champions Germany in Dublin just three days earlier, but Hoolahan was not pressured by the Canaries into sitting out the Polish test after picking up a heel injury in Norwich's 2-1 Premier League defeat to Leicester prior to October's international break.
'I was struggling with a heel injury, so I didn't train going into the Germany game and I didn't train after the Germany game,' he said.
'It was tough, mentally and physically, playing the full game. It was a tough game. But I enjoyed it. Me and Martin had a discussion before the game. Obviously, I didn't train all week and I'd been taking painkillers. I spoke to Martin and Martin was fine. If you're not fully fit then you don't want to go into a massive game.
'You want 11 players wanting to do well and all being fit. You don't want to let your team-mates down. I'm sure Martin appreciated it. He was happy that I spoke to him.'
'No, Norwich didn't get in touch. It was totally my call. It was okay coming on for the last 20 minutes, trying to get the goal to get us through to France. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be but we have two big games coming up now and hopefully we've got a great chance of qualifying. If you said before the group that we had two games to qualify for the Euros, we'd take it.'
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Hoolahan, speaking to the Irish Examiner, is desperate to reach a major tournament with the Irish after missing out on Euro 2012 when he was omitted from the squad by former Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
'I'm Irish through and through so I was rooting them on, wanting to do well and it was disappointing,' he said. 'Hopefully we get another chance. It would be great. You know, I haven't gone with Ireland to a major tournament so it would be the icing on the cake to qualify and go to France. It would be a great achievement for me and Ireland.
'At the start (of the current campaign), I wasn't playing regularly but I was there or thereabouts and when you do play you try your best to do well to keep your place in the team. That's what the lads will be doing tonight and Monday. There are players chomping at the bit who want to do well, who will take the lads' places that are suspended and injured and do as good a job as anybody. Lads that haven't been in the squad or haven't been playing, will want to impress and help us get over the line and get us to France.'