Irish Wanderer Harriman aims to deepen Villa gloom

After sealing his long-term future, Michael Harriman would love nothing better than to crown the week by scalping strugglers Aston Villa in today’s FA Cup third round tie.

FA Cup third round, 12.45 - Wycombe v Aston Villa

Wycombe Wanderers welcome the Premier League outfit to Adams Park with former Ireland U21 defender Harriman newly recruited from QPR on a three-and-half-year deal to boost not only their promotion prospects to League One but today’s mission.

Chichester-born Harriman, who declared for Ireland at 17 through his grandfather from Limerick, is well known to fans to the Chairboys as he was in his second loan stint when the deal for his services on a permanent basis was brokered during the week amid competition from other suitors.

The lunchtime fixture is considered Cup shock territory.

Wycombe are flying high in League Two, on course to at least replicate last season’s play-off finish, whilst Remi Garde’s Villa could be relegated by March so steep has been their decline this term.

Harriman may even end up marking his former Ireland teammate Jack Grealish, currently linked with a loan move down to the Championship.

For all the portents, Harriman is cautioning against any foregone conclusions.

“It is important that we play the Cup tie rather than the occasion,” said the 23-year-old, known as a full-back but regularly operating in midfield this season.

“It’s going to be the first full-house at Adams Park for a number of years but we cannot afford to get carried away.

“As players, to show what you can do against Premier League opposition is what we want to do.

“I’ve scored a few goals this season but the main thing is we try to get the win against Villa.”

Unlike the majority of his team-mates, Harriman has sampled top-flight company having played two Premier League matches during his long spell at QPR.

The outlook seemed promising back when he part of the R’s first-team picture.

Much was expected after he performed admirably at Anfield for the 90 minutes on the final day of the 2012/13 season but the volatility at Loftus Road went against him and influenced his decision to break rank despite penning a new deal only last summer.

“I joined QPR but at the age of nine but there was a few changes of manager and they weren’t going to use me when the club was battling to stay in the Premier League,” said Harriman, who spent other loan stints at Gillingham and Luton Town before returning to Wycombe.

“I’m playing some of the best football in my career this season and Wycombe is the place I feel most at home.

“I think that was reflected by my decision to come back here when the chance came up again this season. There was other clubs interested but this is the only place I want to be.

“The manager, Gareth Ainsworth, was a player at QPR and knew me from there so I’ve been delighted to work with him. Hopefully we can do well for the remainder of the season.”

Further international recognition is not off the agenda. Martin O’Neill will attend today’s meeting between two of his former clubs and may see for himself the reliability which generated so much interest in Harriman during this transfer window.

Current Ireland mainstays Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan had to step back from the Premier League to revive their careers and Harriman has time on his side to scale the divisions and make a push for the Ireland squad in the future.

“It was a proud moment for my family and myself to represent Ireland,” he admitted about his underage caps. “All I can try to do is perform at club level and see where it takes me.”


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