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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 3 March 2021
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A landmark night with Ireland and aiming to establish himself at a new club

Ryan Manning made his international debut on Thursday night.

Ryan Manning made his debut for Ireland on Wednesday night.
Ryan Manning made his debut for Ireland on Wednesday night.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

RYAN MANNING SAYS he was delighted to make his Ireland debut against Bulgaria last night, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances under which the game took place.

A variety of issues meant 13 individuals were missing from the original squad selected by Stephen Kenny, giving fringe players such as Manning the opportunity to impress.

“From a personal point of view, it’s nice to finally get my debut,” he told reporters afterwards. “Although you probably would have wanted to win, I think you can take some positives from it.

“We stayed in the [Nations League] group and I suppose as a defender coming in, a clean sheet on your debut is all you can really ask for.

“I’m just delighted to finally get in and get playing.”

The 24-year-old Galway native had been in the midst of a contract standoff with previous club QPR, before joining Championship rivals Swansea earlier this season.

Partially as a consequence of the doubts surrounding his future before joining the Welsh side, Manning has played just twice at club level this season and once since moving to Swansea.

It was therefore unsurprising to see the full-back pull up with cramp towards the end of the game and be replaced by Cyrus Christie, nonetheless he acquitted himself well overall on his international bow.

“It’s international football, so it’s always going to be that bit more intense,” he said. “You’ve got the best of every country who have played against each other another level up.

“I really enjoyed tonight and hopefully it’s the first of many.”

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Manning has been touted for a call-up on several occasions in the past after impressing in the Championship, but he played down suggestions that there was any sense of frustration at the length of time it took, explaining he knew the call would come so long as he kept playing well.

Everyone would try to get it done as quick as possible. I’m 24 now and I’ve played a good few years in the Championship week in week out. Although I would have liked it to have come earlier, it’s come at a good time.

“The last few months have been internationals coming thick and fast with the fixtures. At club level as well, it’s been hectic. We get a bit of a break from international football now, two or three months before the next one in March.

“We’ve got a tough fixture list with everyone in at club level, but it’s just [important] to get back in to the Swansea team and play as much football as I can between now and then, and hopefully I can stay in the gaffer’s thoughts come March.”

Although he would ideally like to have gotten more game time so far, Manning says he is enjoying life at his new club, who currently sit sixth in the Championship, three points off table toppers Reading.

“I’ve settled in really well. The group of boys that are there and the staff and everyone are a really good group, so it wasn’t too hard to settle in and mingle with them.

“And then in terms of re-locating, I was able to get down there, find a house and get settled really quickly.

All in all, it’s been an easy process, the whole move. I really enjoyed my time there and it’s just a matter of settling fully into the football side of things, getting into the squad. Hopefully I can nail down a starting XI place and get consistent football and help the team get promoted.

“We’re there or thereabouts at the top of the table and hopefully we can stay there and progress through this tough two or three months coming up.”

Not long into his debut, Manning made his presence felt, with a robust challenge on Bulgaria attacker Spas Delev.

The tackle provoked the ire of the visitors, and the Irish defender picked up a booking as a result. Asked if he feared he could have seen red, Manning replied: “I think it was the wrong decision. It was just a nice tough tackle on your debut that you want to put in. It’s one of them with the conditions where it probably looked worse than it was, but it was just a nice, fair tackle to mark the occasion.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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