St Ledger banking on Euros boost

Sean St Ledger has dismissed reports he is due for the exit door at Leicester City and is intent on proving his worth to manager Nigel Pearson at next month’s European Championships with Ireland.

The centre-half was one of half-a-dozen players reported as surplus to requirements at the King Power Stadium last week — others included Jermaine Beckford, Paul Konchesky and Sol Bamba — as Pearson prepares for first full campaign in charge.

“No, no, no,” said St Ledger at Carton House yesterday.

“I saw that in the papers but it’s news to me. I don’t think the manager said to any of us who he wants to leave. So, as far as I know, I am a Leicester City player until I am told differently.”

Yet St Ledger’s season was, as he admitted, “very up and down”.

In and out of the team, there were reports of a bust-up with the manager at Christmas and he was hours from joining Ipswich Town on loan in January before an injury crisis earned a reprieve.

“I think (Ipswich) were playing Birmingham in midweek. I live in Birmingham so I was due to go to their hotel and go on loan there. Then my agent got a phone call from Leicester saying there were injuries at the club so they could not let me go.

“I played in the FA Cup a week later and started half the games for them but it was all agreed and I was happy to go there. I spoke to (Ipswich manager) Paul Jewell and it was nearly done. It was a three-month loan and I literally had boots and was playing in their game that night.”

Such uncertainty is nothing new to a player who has endured some tough times at club level in recent years, having joined Middlesbrough on loan, returning to Preston North End under a cloud and then joining up with Leicester.

Now, not for the first time, he finds himself eager to link up with an Ireland squad and management team that has never failed to embrace him since he made an impressive debut against Nigeria at a summer friendly at Craven Cottage three years ago.

“It’s a huge tournament,” he said of the approaching European Championships which will feature a 23-man Ireland squad to be named by Giovanni Trapattoni next Monday.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait to get into the squad and pit my wits against some of the best strikers in Europe. It will be a tough task but when you are a kid you dream of playing in tournaments like this and against some of the players who will be on show.”

With Leicester’s Championship season ending last weekend, St Ledger will have plenty of time to brush up on some likely opponents before Ireland’s Championship players meet up in Dublin on May 17 — not that he hasn’t been already.

“[Fernando] Torres is hitting form. I know that much. We played against him a couple of weeks ago in the FA Cup. He weren’t bad, like. He has worked hard and people have wrote him off too early. He is showing the form at the moment that Chelsea paid that money for.

“You have got [Nikica] Jelavic at Everton and he is scoring goals at the moment. I am watching him to see what he is all about. He has come to the Premier League and done very well. I’m looking forward to it. These are the kind of players you want to play against.”


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