Sean St Ledger pleads case for defence
Sean St Ledger is desperate to make up for lost time as he attempts to force his way into the Republic of Ireland team for Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier in Macedonia.
The 26-year-old Preston defender has been out of action with a knee injury since the middle of March and just last week was not even in the frame to play in Skopje.
However, his condition has improved so rapidly that manager Giovanni Trapattoni is now considering him as a genuine option to return to a defence deprived of the suspended Richard Dunne.
For St Ledger, who sat by helplessly as his club's fight for npower Championship survival ultimately came up short, the chance to finish a difficult season on a high note is one he's determined not to miss.
Asked what he had told Trapattoni about his fitness, he said: "I told him I'm fit and I want to play.
"I want to play for my country. I love playing football.
"I want to play football as long as I can. I've been playing for eight years. It's something I love and there's only a few years left."
Trapattoni and his players headed out from Dublin this afternoon after completing their preparations in Malahide with the manager facing a series of tough decisions over the likes of St Ledger, who has not played in 10 weeks, Kevin Kilbane following his play-off final heartache with Huddersfield, and the achilles-injured Keith Andrews.
The Italian said: "We always have to think about this situation. It's an away game and we need experienced players without fear and who have personality."
However, the message from St Ledger is that he is ready to put his body on the line despite Trapattoni's understandable concerns.
He said: "There's always a risk, but there's risk for every player who goes out in a game."