Belfast Telegraph

Gibson ready to rock for Republic again

By Ian Parkes

Darron Gibson is ready to re-launch his Republic of Ireland career in the face of a potential German onslaught after ending his international exile.

The 25-year-old Everton midfielder famously made himself unavailable for his country after spending the entire Euro 2012 finals in Poland sitting on the bench as then manager Giovanni Trapattoni ignored his claims for a place in the team.

Following a disastrous campaign in Poland, the Italian singled out Londonderry man Gibson, Seamus Coleman and James McClean as the vanguard of a new generation of players who would take the nation forward, but the former Manchester United man had had enough.

Trapattoni's departure after last month's World Cup qualifier defeats by Sweden and Austria, which effectively ended their qualification hopes, prompted the Football Association of Ireland to dispense with the 74-year-old's services, and that in turn persuaded Gibson, who has 19 caps, to make himself available.

Asked if he felt almost as though he was starting all over again, he said: "It does, a little bit, yes, not with the players, the players were fine when I came back in, but obviously with the fans.

"I have got something to prove. I thought I should have played back then and hopefully I will get my chance on Friday night to show what I can do."

Gibson's absence meant he played no role in the meaningful part of the current campaign as the Republic attempted to qualify for a second successive major tournament finals.

He said: "It was tough, it was tough to stay away, but it was my decision and I stuck to it. But I am delighted to be back in."

Gibson's form for Everton has demonstrated exactly what his country has missed since the debacle in Poland, and he was warmly welcomed back into the fold.

In explaining his reasons for turning his back on Trapattoni's side, he pointed to the Italian's repeated preference for Paul Green, although he insists there was no frosty reception for him from the Leeds man when he arrived at the team hotel.

He said: "Me and Paul Green get on well. I didn't say anything bad about him, I just said I thought I should have been playing ahead of him."

Gibson will hope to prove his worth once again to interim boss Noel King in Cologne, and perhaps Trapattoni's successor, whoever he may be, with the players acutely aware that a manager in waiting could well be paying close attention to what happens at the RheinEnergieStadion tomorrow evening.

The process of identifying the right man is well under way with former international Ray Houghton and FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter having been charged with the task of finding him.

Asked if that process could take some time yes, Dokter replied: "Yes."

Martin O'Neill was the man at the top of the shortlist drawn up in the wake of Trapattoni's departure, while Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane also enjoy popular support but for now all Gibson and his team-mates can do is attempt to impress.

Belfast Telegraph


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