Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Football

Harry Arter relishing challenge of making Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 squad

Published 28/05/2016

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is confident Shane Long, pictured, can make a major impact at Euro 2016
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is confident Shane Long, pictured, can make a major impact at Euro 2016

Harry Arter is refusing to be fazed by the pressure of trying to play his way into Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland squad for the Euro 2016 finals.

The Bournemouth midfielder did his chances of making the 23 little harm on Friday evening when he got 82 minutes under his belt in a 1-1 draw with Holland at the Aviva Stadium.

Arter was winning his second senior cap almost a year after the first, and the intervening 12 months have brought both personal tragedy and professional frustration.

But with just one more friendly to go - against Belarus on Tuesday - before O'Neill announces his squad, he insists he is not feeling the burden of what is at stake.

The 26-year-old said: "I feel fortunate and lucky enough to be in this position. I don't see it as pressure, I see it as a challenge. I was pleased to get the nod.

"We're professional footballers - if you feel like you're under pressure, then you're not going to give it your all. This is my job to perform and give it my best, and that's what I tried to do.

"I was happy with how I did. I gave it my best, 110 per cent, and that's all you can do."

Arter made his first appearance for Ireland in a 0-0 draw with England in June last year, but had to wait until Friday to get another taste of the action with injuries having limited him to 22 appearances for his club last season.

However, he showed no sign of rustiness to give O'Neill something to think about as he assesses the relative merits of he, Darron Gibson, Stephen Quinn, David Meyler and Eunan O'Kane in a highly competitive central midfield area in which Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy and Jeff Hendrick are near-certainties to make the plane.

He said: "I've worked hard for the past two months to try and get my body as good as it can get and (on Friday night) I was pleased out there."

O'Neill will announce his squad after the Belarus game in Cork just hours before UEFA's deadline, and he will do so having seen his side turn in a competitive display against the Dutch.

They spent much of the game playing without the ball as Danny Blind's men dominated possession, but did little with it - perhaps one of the reasons they will not be joining Ireland in France.

Shane Long opened the scoring with a close-range 30th-minute finish and that looked like being enough until substitute Luuk de Jong took advantage of a rare lapse by the Republic rearguard to head home Jetro Willems' cross five minutes from time.

Asked about the late equaliser, Arter said: "Of course it matters because you don't want to concede goals. It's not a habit you want to get used to.

"But I think you have to recognise that the Dutch are an unbelievable side. I know they're not going to the Euros, but if they were going, I'd have no doubt that they would be seen as one of the favourites for the tournament."

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph