Given that Richard Dunne, Ireland’s first choice centre half is almost certainly out of Ireland’s key World Cup Qualifier against Germany next month, it is all the more surprising that his club mate and premier league regular, Ciaran Clark remains on the outside looking in to the Irish international set-up.
The current first choice centre half partnership for the Germany game looks set to be a selection consisting of Sean St.Ledger and Darren O’Dea. While both these players have been fine servants to the Irish international team, the fact remains that both these individuals are playing at an inferior level to Clark.
O’ Dea is currently plying his trade in Major League Soccer with Toronto F.C, hardly one of football’s spiritual homes. When one thinks of great footballing arenas in the world, it is unlikely that many will name check BMO field as a cathedral of football.
While St. Ledger’s Leicester City are currently flying high in the Championship, no amount of sugar coating can disguise the fact that Clark is simply playing at a higher level, week in, week out. Add Clark’s versatility(he has played left back and midfield for Aston Villa) and reason’s for not including him in the squad appear to be non-existent. Of course Trappatoni will tow the usual line, extolling the virtues of those already in the squad while proclaiming the sancity of HIS system.
Mr. Trappatoni is seemingly oblivious to the fact that not only is Clark a Premierleague footballer who surely can grasp tactical nuances, but also to the fact that friendlies by their very nature are designed to help players adjust to a system. Clark has been consistently ignored by Trappatoni over the past year but retains the mystifying positivity of youth.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Clark maintained that “I need to be playing week in, week out to catch the eye of the Irish staff. So if I keep working hard than maybe I might be in the squad for a couple of the qualifying games. That would be great.” One has to admire Clark’s respect and deference for the management team, we can only hope that they show similar respect and reward the young defender for his impressive recognise his true worth sooner rather than later.