Belfast Telegraph

Armenia v Republic of Ireland: Whelan backing Green to make grade

By David Kelly

Glenn Whelan's feistiness for the fray should never be underestimated. His no-nonsense upbraiding of professional colleagues in the workplace has been well documented.

Abdoulaye Faye, for example, no longer dares to slack around his Stoke City team-mates and you guess he won't start a scrap with the spirited Dubliner again.

So it is that Whelan is well-placed to assess the merits or otherwise of the latest overnight sensation of Irish football, Derby midfielder Paul Green.

“We have crossed paths a few times going back the years, we've had a few little barneys I would say,” offers the smiling assassin, recalling a derby between his then employers Sheffield Wednesday and Green's Doncaster Rovers.

“Yeah, at the time I think we were League One, I had just moved to Sheffield. It was like a local derby game as well which helped spice things up. I think he hit me once which I felt was over the top a little bit, but I haven't got him back ... yet! I'll try soon!”

Green will have already felt the clanking of Whelan's studs during training this week; both men are destined to start in Yerevan tomorrow, upsetting the midfield synchronicity of the last campaign, where Whelan dovetailed with the now injured Keith Andrews.

Lest we forget, Whelan and Andrews were themselves effectively international virgins before their partnership developed; it is a measure of Whelan's own accelerated development that he is now being asked to assess the merits of another fledgling.

“You can tell with Paul,” he adds, “especially knowing him and playing with him a bit that he always had the ability to kick on and do really well. Then he got his move to Derby which has helped him come on leaps and bounds.

“He is playing for a big team and is doing really well for himself. Keith won't be there on Friday but it's not about individuals. Obviously for Keith it is disappointing, but it gives someone else a chance to get in and do well.

“If that's the case then Keith might have to fight to get back in, but that's good to have in any squad. It just makes people try improve when they do get a chance.”

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