His first Ireland call-up may have cost Harry Arter the chance to relax in the Dubai sun, but the Bournemouth midfielder’s left foot wand could prove a potent weapon in Sunday’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.
A sublime effort from Arter earned Bournemouth a point against Cardiff on St Patrick’s Day but the 25-year-old topped that effort with a rocket in the 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday as the Cherries returned to the top of the Championship.
While the Bournemouth squad are in Dubai this week for some warm weather training Arter will be hoping to catch the eye of Martin O’Neill. He could do worse than show the Ireland boss clips of his latest two goals.
Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager, believes Arter is well capable of shining on the international stage.
“I know he’s very proud to be called up by Ireland and rightly so,” Howe said. “He’s deserved it because he’s been consistent for a long time. He is ready.”
Looking ahead to this week Arter, who insisted he didn’t dive to win the penalty that led to Bournemouth’s third goal, said: “It’s nice to have been picked and to go there with a spring in my step. It’s a week I’m looking forward to.”
Wes Hoolahan was another Irish player to make a compelling case for inclusion against Poland after he made a goal and scored a penalty in Norwich’s 3-1 win over Reading.
Hoolahan’s goal was his first at Carrow Road in over two years and kept the Canaries bang in the promotion mix.
“It’s a massive win because going into the game we knew how important it was to come away with the three points,” Hoolahan said. “Hopefully we can kick on now.”
Elsewhere, Eoin Doyle came off the bench to grab his first goal for Cardiff City as the Bluebirds beat Birmingham 2-0.
Doyle scored 25 times for League One Chesterfield this season before joining Cardiff City in January but had struggled to make the transition to a higher level.
That was until Saturday when he opening the scoring before winning the penalty that led to the second.
Scott Young, Cardiff City’s assistant manager, said: “Doyle came into the club in January, played a few games and was very unfortunate not to get off the mark. He had one or two cleared off the line, things didn’t fall for him. He came on and had a real impact today, grabbing the goal he deserved.”
It was a landmark weekend for Aidan O’Brien as the striker grabbed his first senior goal to help struggling Millwall to a 2-2 draw at Brentford. O’Brien’s header put Millwall 2-0 up but they were denied a badly needed victory after Alan Judge won a penalty to spark a late Brentford comeback.
In League One, a Conor Wilkinson goal gave Oldham a 1-0 win over Crewe to maintain their slender hopes of gatecrashing the play-offs.
In League Two, Liam Lawrence scored a penalty and a free-kick to secure Shrewsbury a 2-0 win that maintained their push for automatic promotion.
Elsewhere, Damien McCrory was among the scorers as leaders Burton won 4-1 at Tranmere, a late strike from Graham Cummins helped Exeter to a 2-1 win at Cheltenham, Pádraig Amond scored a penalty as Morecambe drew 1-1 at Carlisle while Seán Maguire netted in Accrington Stanley’s 2-2 draw with York City.
In the Scottish Premiership, Adam Rooney was on the mark again but Aberdeen’s slim title hopes suffered a setback after a 1-1 draw at Dundee.
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