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How are we getting on? A mid-season Premier League review of the Irish players' progress

As Ireland’s Premier League players prepare for a busy Christmas schedule, Michael Maher reflects on the top-flight season so far.

Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport
Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport

Aston Villa

Richard Dunne – For a player that Ireland fans can always depend on for an assured defensive performance, Dunne’s performances for his club this season have been very poor.

Mistakes seem to have crept into his game and he seems to be struggling to settle under Gerard Houllier.

Ciaran Clark – The find of the year for Ireland. Only recently declared for Ireland and has taken his first team opportunities with both hands.

Despite being a defender, Clark has looked quite assured in midfield for Villa. Has shown that he has an eye for goal also.

Stephen Ireland – To say Ireland’s move to Villa Park has been a nightmare is nearly an understatement.

He has not settled at all and has looked lost on the pitch when given a rare opportunity. Expect a move, be it loan or permanent, in January.

Birmingham

Stephen Carr – Having a very good season thus far. Birmingham have struggled this year, but that is completely down to a lack of goals, rather than defensive frailties. Carr has become a main stay in an impressive defence.

Keith Fahey – Struggled at the start of the season to get in to the starting 11. However that seems to have changed since his goal for Ireland against Armenia.

Since then Fahey has been consistently starting for Birmingham. His performances have been steady.

Blackburn

Keith Andrews – A season that has thus far been ruined by injury. It’s a shame as he was absolutely immense during our play-off heartbreak in Paris.

When he does recover from injury, Andrews will have a new manager to impress.

Chelsea

Conor Clifford – While he has yet to play in the Premiership, Clifford has impressed a lot on loan at Plymoth Argyle.

He won their player of the month by a massive margin. Unfortunately Argyle’s serious financial troubles mean that it looks unlikely that Clifford’s loan will be allowed to be extended.

Everton

Seamus Coleman – The Irish player of the season thus far. Settled into Premiership life brilliantly, and has already found a place in Everton fans’ hearts after his performance in his first Liverpool derby.

While not being a right winger by trade, Coleman has taken to his role admirably. Major future ahead for the Donegal native.

Fulham

Damien Duff – Disappointingly, Duff has been reduced to the substitutes’ bench in recent weeks for Fulham. Time unfortunately seems to be catching up on the winger. Fingers crossed he will have a better second half of the season.

Stephen Kelly – Has found himself in and out of the team and will no doubt be very frustrated that he cannot seem to hold down a starting position.

Looked okay when given his chance.

Manchester City

Shay Given – A season that looked like it would be a great season for Given has turned into a nightmare since Mancini selected Joe Hart as his number one in August.

Reduced to Europa League action, Irish fans can expect Given to be on the move in January.

Greg Cunningham – Similar to Conor Clifford in that he has impressed on loan. He’ss looked assured at left back for Sven Goran Eriksson’s Leicester City.

Manchester United

John O’Shea – Proving to be a very disappointing season for the Waterford man. Lost his left back position to Rafael, and failed to take his opportunities in midfield when they came his way.

The second half of the season will be vitally important for O’Shea, who seems to have fallen out of favour with Alex Ferguson for the first time in his career.

Darron Gibson –  After being trusted by Alex Ferguson to start in Man Utd’s biggest game of last season, the 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich, many Irish fans expected a lot from Gibson this season.

Ultimately it has not happened and it is beginning to look like a move away from Old Trafford could be needed.

Stoke City

Rory Delap – His bullet throws are still of significant importance for Stoke.

At a club with a number of Irish players, he is the only one that is a consistent starter. Dependable player, if never exceptional.

Glenn Whelan – Very disappointing season so far for Whelan. Fallen out of favour with manager Pulis, Whelan has found his opportunities very limited.

Seemed to suffer a loss of form for both club and country at the beginning of the season.

Jon Walters – Can be relatively happy with how he has settled into the Premier League. Scored his first Premier league goal against Blackburn, and received the praise of then Blackburn manager, Sam Allardyce.

The highlight of Walters season so far will no doubt be making his Irish debut against Norway.

Marc Wilson – A little disappointing in his first handful of matches for Stoke, which have resulted in him having to settle for a place on the bench.

No doubt Wilson, who is a very exciting prospect, will get much more opportunities in the second half of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur

Robbie Keane – A dreadful and completely forgettable season so far for the Irish captain. Has fallen very much out of favour at Spurs and is now only the fourth choice striker at White Hart Lane.

A move in January appears to be a given.

Wolves

Kevin Doyle – Struggling big time this season for goals, but his performances have been very good. A player of such major importance for Mick McCarthy, he will play a major part in Wolves battle against relegation.

Kevin Foley – Despite Wolves struggling this season, Foley can be quite happy with his season’s work so far. Given the captain’s armband a fortnight ago, which shows the trust that McCarthy has in him.

Dependable player who can slot into a number of positions.

Stephen Ward – Has had some very good performances, as well as some quite poor displays. Can be a little upset that he has not received a call-up to the Irish squad this season.

Another player who has been asked to play in a number of positions this season.

Stephen Hunt – Did well to come back from injury, but struggled to get into his best form on his return. In recent weeks however it looks like the Stephen Hunt of old has returned.

Wigan

James McCarthy – Was having a great season until his ankle injury against Bolton.

Has a fantastic future ahead of him and Irish fans can expect to see him return by mid-January.

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