Matt Doherty: I’m not frustrated, when I’m called upon, I’ll be ready

Matt Doherty: I’m not frustrated, when I’m called upon, I’ll be ready
Matt Doherty

Matt Doherty pauses as he weighs up the question.

“How would you assess your Ireland career so far?”

“Erm...

“Erm…

“Erm…”

Thirteen seconds elapse. That’s a long time in football interviews.

“Well I’ve not played that much, obviously, and I want to play as much as I can,” he begins. “I have to bide my time and whenever my time comes to be more of a regular... If I play, I play, if I don’t, I don’t, and I will work harder to try get into the team.”

He is unsure of the exact number of appearances he has made since his debut away to Turkey in March 2018.

Well how many caps have I got? Is it seven? And four or five of them have been as subs. You want to play as much as you can. I don’t really know what to say.

The usually forthright Doherty seems stumped, admitting how he hoped he would be a more established figure by this point, and insisting he is more than capable of filling the void left by the suspended Enda Stevens at left back against Georgia on Saturday.

“International football is hard and it’s not easy to get into the team. I’m not frustrated or anything like that. I’m not annoyed with how it has gone. I will just wait and when I’m called upon, I’ll be ready.”

Mick McCarthy started him at right wing, in front of captain Seamus Coleman in his favoured full-back spot, for the opening Euro 2020 qualifier away to Gibraltar. The Wolves man was hooked 11 minutes into the second half, with the Ireland manager declaring the experiment failed and he would not try it again.

Doherty has only managed eight substitute minutes in the campaign since, although a troublesome knee injury that has plagued him since the start of pre-season hasn’t helped his cause. Regardless of the competition, the Dubliner actually has the strongest bond of all his team-mates with Coleman.

Some may view it as peculiar considering they are vying for the same spot, but Doherty doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s not strange at all. It’s just totally normal. Honestly if you could see it you would think it is totally normal and healthy. We are best mates when we get here. Our friendship is quite strong.”

That extends to buying sweets and watching television together, although their favourite show from the summer is currently off the air. “Love Island is not on at the moment so we’ve kind of been bored not knowing what to do,” Doherty adds, revealing how they drove to a nearby shop last June to buy treats to scoff down together.

All very harmless, but Doherty has had some medical problems this summer.

As well as that knee injury which has halted his progress since the start of the season (he has only stopped taking anti-inflammatories this week) the 27-year-old also had a skin cancer scare when he noticed a freckle develop on his lip which grew larger over the last 12 months.

“I was away playing golf in Portugal so it might have been from the sun. I had no sun cream on because I was trying to get a tan. I didn’t really take much notice of it. I thought it was just a little burn really,” Doherty continues.

A trip to the doctor provided a best and worst-case scenario.

Some sort of skin cancer. That word was mentioned but not like in a threatening way. We went to the dermatologist and she was like: ‘Nah, I don’t like it, you’re probably going to have to have it cut out’.

Thankfully, It turned out to be a harmless pigmentation.

He won’t be venturing into the unknown should he be asked to fill in at left back in Tbilisi. “I’ve played there before, it wouldn’t be that new to me at all, I played the best part of two seasons there and really enjoyed that actually,” he recalls.

“Going forward, it’s really enjoyable, it opens up the game for you.”

And maybe some new possibilities with Ireland.

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