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Cillian Sheridan on Ireland chances: ‘Unless you’re an established player it’s going to be different’

The striker was speaking in a recent interview in Poland about his absence from the national squad.

Cillian Sheridan (file pic).
Cillian Sheridan (file pic).
Image: EMPICS Sport

CAVAN NATIVE CILLIAN Sheridan has spoken about the struggles he faces as an Irishman playing in European leagues outside of Britain.

Sheridan, who was a notable absentee from Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad on Monday, admitted anyone who is not an established footballer playing in Britain is unlikely to figure for the Irish team.

Speaking in an interview with Polish website Sport.pl this week, the 28-year-old, who is currently playing for Jagiellonia Białystok in Poland’s premier division, reflected on his short-lived international career in which he last featured in an international friendly against Argentina in 2010.

We played Argentina and the next day I did my medical and signed for CSKA Sofia. When you leave the UK to play football, you do (put yourself out of the spotlight).

“Unless you’re an established player with so many caps and you’re going to a huge league, then obviously it’s going to be different.

“When you go to leagues like (Bulgaria) I think it can set you back in terms of the national team. I think I was in one or two squads after, but I didn’t play.”

Cillian Sheridan gestures towards Walter Samuel Sheridan last appeared in the green jersey in 2010. Source: Cathal Noonan

Sheridan, who has played in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland since a period of loan spells in England and Scotland for Motherwell, Plymouth Argyll and St. Johnston, has just three international caps to his name.

The forward made his international debut in May 2010 against Paraguay before earning another substitute appearance against Algeria shortly after, while his only start against Argentina seven years ago.

The player showed great promise during four years at Celtic under manager Gordon Strachan, but has since found consistent success playing across the continent where he has won the Bulgarian Cup, Cypriot First Division, Cypriot Cup twice and the Cypriot Super Cup for CSKA Sofia and APOEL Nicosia respectively.

In Bulgaria it started off well, we had the Europa League, but then the manager’s changed and I wasn’t playing,” said Sheridan. “Going there went bad because I wasn’t playing and I was living alone. I didn’t enjoy it, but it did give me the experience of playing abroad — what not to do and stuff like that.

“When the chance to go to Cyprus came up straight away I wanted to do it. Every interview they were saying ‘you’re the only Irishman in the Champions League’. It started again when I came here… ‘You’re the first Irishman to play in Poland’.

For me it (playing in Poland) came at the perfect time when I wanted to go and test myself at a higher league and a tougher league. You’re more in mainland Europe (which helps) in terms of the national team,” he said.

Asked if he believed O’Neill could still pick him in an international squad in the future, Sheridan remained diplomatic but acknowledged the lack of opportunities the Irish manager had to see him play in person in comparison to others in the Premier League and Championship.

“If he does come, then good. But I can’t change how I approach games or how I’m playing – thinking ‘oh he’s not here today’. I just have to treat it like he is always watching.”

Watch the full interview here.

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