High-flying O’Dea in for the long haul

If there’s one player, above all others, who personifies the concept of commitment to the Irish cause, then it must be Darren O’Dea.

High-flying O’Dea in  for the long haul

Just take a look at his itinerary this week: having flown from Canada into London on Monday to prepare for tomorrow’s game at Wembley, he will make the reverse trip on Thursday so he can play for his club Toronto on Saturday, before flying back again across the Atlantic to rejoin the Irish squad in Dublin ahead of the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands on June 7.

Whew, the air miles must be handy, a wag suggests.

“Yeah,” O’Dea replies with a grin, “I’m air mile elite status.”

But the real seriousness of his intent is evident when he’s asked how his MLS club reacted to his extravagant travel plans.

“They didn’t have a choice,” he says simply. “Before I ever spoke to the club about money or anything else, the first thing I spoke about was international football. They had no say, it was up to me. It’s quite obvious from past experience that I’m going to come, more often than not. As I said before I went to the club, internationals are the pinnacle of anyone’s career.”

As for coping with jet lag, O’Dea remarks: “The only person it’s going to effect is me. But I look after myself. There’s little tricks you can do to deal with jetlag. I’ve adapted to it. Last year was very tough, at times I was all over the shop but now I feel fine. It’s about preparing days before, hydration and, mainly, your sleep patterns. It’s tough for a day but once you break that and do it once you’ll be fine. And if you need them, the doctor has a couple of formulas to help you sleep.”

No doubt feeling a tad fresher as he arrived on the training pitch in St Alban’s yesterday was Stephen Quinn, whose late call-up as a replacement for the injured Paul Green, brings the Hull City contingent in the current squad to four. His club – and now international – team-mate David Meyler was delighted to see him return to the green ranks after a gap of five years.

“Quinner has been fantastic for us, our Players’ Player of the Year last season, which he deserved,” said Meyler, whose own 24th birthday will coincide with the game at Wembley tomorrow. “The four of us have worked really hard and to achieve what we achieved , and to be here together now, it’s great. Stephen enjoyed being out with us on the training pitch today, you could see that.”

Encouragingly, Richard Dunne also took a full part in training yesterday though Marco Tardelli reiterated he will not be risked against England and is also unlikely to feature in the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

“Yes, Richard Dunne is good,” said the assistant manager. “Against England he doesn’t play but I think it’s possible he will in the games against Georgia or Spain. If he is fit and he wants to play then we will be very happy but we have to keep an eye on him in training. But the England game would be too much for a player who hasn’t played football in a year.”

Like his fellow centre-half, whose time is now up at Villa, Sean St Ledger has revealed that his own immediate future at club level is also uncertain.

Said St Ledger yesterday: “I’m surplus to requirements at Leicester City and they’ve said I’m not going to play too much next season so it looks like I’ll have to try and find a new club. I do have another year on my contract and I’m happy at Leicester and wouldn’t want to leave, but when you are told you can then sometimes you have to accept that.”

In other squad news, Glenn Whelan is fit again but Marc Wilson is still nursing a calf strain and, if there’s any doubt about the full-back’s fitness, he will not feature at Wembley nor against Georgia.

“We need him for the game against the Faroe Islands,” said Marco Tardelli.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox