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Randolph won't give up on his Premier ambition

Austria v Rep of Ireland, World Cup Group D: Vienna, Saturday, 5.00pm

By Daniel McDonnell

Published 10/11/2016

In hand: Darren Randolph is relieved to get some action for the Republic of Ireland after finding his playing time limited at West Ham
In hand: Darren Randolph is relieved to get some action for the Republic of Ireland after finding his playing time limited at West Ham

Over a year has passed since Darren Randolph stepped out of the Republic of Ireland shadows to become the main man.

He was asked if the promotion during the famous win over Germany has dramatically changed his life. He smiled.

"Well, the only thing that's changed is I'm playing here," he shrugged. "That's been it really."

His current status at West Ham hung over his 15-minute chat, relevant to all the basic questions leading into Saturday's date with Austria.

Is he fit? Is he sharp? Does his place feel under threat? None of these questions would figure if Randolph was first choice with club as well as country.

However, he remains second choice behind Adrian, relying on cup dates to get on the pitch, with the Hammers' failure to make the Europa League group stages removing a route that would have aided his situation.

Mistakes from Adrian have failed to change Slaven Bilic's view on his goalkeeping options.

"Adrian has been there for four or five years so he's going to get the benefit of the doubt and get more games for the team to try and turn things around," explained Randolph. "I have to be patient like I have been and wait around."

But there was another issue to address - the aftermath of a club-sanctioned night out that ended with suggestions it had spilled over into another day, with pictures of Randolph and Andy Carroll used as evidence.

The club announced they would investigate it.

"It was all blown up," Randolph said. "It's social media, and media in general."

The perils of being recognised? He smiled again.

"It was something out of nothing. And it's all done. It was done and dusted the day it happened, it was nothing," he said.

He could have done without that attention in his position, though, and a knee injury suffered in the last international break was in danger of costing him valuable game-time in the League Cup meeting with Chelsea.

But he recovered to impress in a victory that was overshadowed by crowd trouble in the stands - the latest instalment of teething issues at the Olympic Stadium.

"What's disappointing was that we had a great performance and a win but nobody spoke about it," the Bray man sighed.

"It's just teething problems and it's going to take people a while to get used to it (stadium) really. It doesn't help with the start we've had to the season, it just makes everyone more upset."

The players are oblivious to some of the strife, he explained with another grin. With the running track increasing the distance between the pitch and the crowd, all they can see is the hi-vis jackets.

All that strife is a contrast from his Irish position, which is secure despite his club woes.

Randolph does accept that the claims of Keiren Westwood and his pal Rob Elliot will be strengthened if they are lining out regularly.

Westwood is first pick at Sheffield Wednesday and Elliot will be desperate to reclaim that spot once he comes back to full fitness at Newcastle.

After a long enough wait to reach Premier League level, Randolph isn't going to leave without giving it a proper crack.

"It's only my second season there," he stressed. "I'm not going to give up on it that easily."

That said, the Euros did give him a real taste of the big time and, while it culminated with tears in Lyon, the overall experience is one he will cherish.

"It's nice to look back at different images and stuff that sticks out in your head," he said. "Different points in games, different moments with the team.

"Just sitting around with the lads having a laugh or being out somewhere and seeing the fans. Anything really, little things that you would take for granted but now it's finished, people will ask you about it and you sit there and think about how big it was."

When he came home for a couple of days before going on holiday, attempts to watch the matches back were rebuffed.

That kind of reflection is for later in life. For now, he's using the positive recollections as motivation to get to Russia and make some new ones.

The performances this autumn may not have reached the heights of the summer, but the results have put Martin O'Neill's side in a strong position.

Late drama in Lille was the high point of France. The good habit of scoring at crucial stages has carried forward, with Daryl Murphy's last-ditch equaliser in Serbia followed by second-half winners against Georgia and Moldova.

"When you do it a couple of times you have that belief that we've done it before so we can do it again," Randolph said.

"When you do it so often, it can't be a coincidence. You keep the pressure on all the way to the end knowing that you'll be able to do it."

Randolph is hoping that similar perseverance will stand to him in his full-time job. That difficulty will not restrict his Irish opportunity.

Belfast Telegraph

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