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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 19 April, 2019

'I haven’t forgotten him' - Uncapped Wolves full-back Doherty earns recall

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill also spoke highly of ‘improving’ Preston pair Sean Maguire and Alan Browne.

Wolves full-back Doherty.
Wolves full-back Doherty.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

MATT DOHERTY HAS enjoyed an excellent start to the season.

An ever-present in the Wolves team in recent years, the Dubliner has played every minute of all 13 league matches this term for the club currently sitting top of the Championship.

Although he’s a full-back by trade, Doherty is often used at right wing-back by manager Nuno Espirito Santo as he regularly lines his team up in a 3-4-3.

In September, the 25-year-old — who joined Wolves from Bohemians in 2010 — earned himself a new four-year deal.

However, the former Ireland U21 international has yet to make his debut at senior level despite receiving a first-call to Martin O’Neill’s squad in March 2016.

With captain Seamus Coleman sidelined for the past seventh months with a broken leg, there have been calls for Doherty to be given a chance to compete with Cyrus Christie for the right-back position.

Having been left out of the squads for recent qualifiers with Georgia, Serbia, Moldova and Wales, the defender today made a 34-man provisional panel ahead of next month’s World Cup play-off with Denmark.

And speaking at this afternoon’s press conference, O’Neill spoke highly of Doherty.

“I’ve never felt that they left,” he replied, when asked about the return of Doherty and fellow defender Paul McShane. “I do name pretty big squads, I’ve narrowed it down this week to 67!

I’ve never seen them as being out of the squads — although they haven’t made the last 25 or 26 — but they’re certainly in my thoughts. I saw Matt play against Nottingham Forest not so long ago.

“He’s playing right wing-back for Wolves and it seems to suit him. They [Wolves] are going very well and I haven’t forgotten him.”

Martin O'Neill O'Neill speaking today. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Sean Maguire retains his place after making his senior debut in the win over Moldova and O’Neill discussed the Preston North End forward as well as his club mate Alan Browne.

“I thought he [Maguire] played exceptionally against Fulham,” the Derryman added. “He was off [injured] after a half hour but not before he had made a very, very good impact in the game. I think he’s getting better. He did well in training when we met up and he came on to great acclaim in the match against Moldova, so good news all round.

“He [Browne] is a strong running player. I think he’s improving and it’s nice to see he has become a settled fixture with Preston, who are going well.

“It’s encouraging. He’s got a bit of work to do as there are some midfield players who are in front of him but he’s got a great attitude.”

Denmark: Denmark v Poland - World Cup 2018 Qualifier Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The Ireland manager also explained that he has spent the past week  since the draw has been made doing his homework on opponents Denmark — name-checking Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen and Werder Bremen’s midfielder Thomas Delaney, who isn’t eligible to play for Ireland despite his name.

“It will be very tough,” he said of the play-off. “They are tough matches — there’s no question about that. [Christian] Eriksen is playing out of his skin at the moment. He’s a really good player.

“Their manager was saying he thinks he could be the difference between the two teams and that could be right. They’ve got a lad called Delaney, who’s an exceptionally good player.

I think [FAI CEO] John [Delaney] is claiming responsibility for him,” O’Neill joked.

“When I mentioned him to John, he said he had to be good because he’s Delaney. He’s a very good player, I think his great-grandfather was Irish.

“They’re much better than they were when they played in the play-off games against Sweden for Euro 2016. They’re better-equipped, they’re stronger and they’re quite physical. They’ve got some exceptionally good players so it will be really tough for us.”

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Ben Blake

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