Mark Bunn aims to star for Norwich City and Republic of Ireland
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Norwich City keeper Mark Bunn wants to join the Canaries’ growing international jet set – and his club manager Chris Hughton has backed him to force his way into the Republic of Ireland set-up.
The London-born player is eligible through a paternal grandmother and father to join Wes Hoolahan and potentially Anthony Pilkington in Giovanni Trapattoni’s World Cup plans.
The 28-year-old is determined to make the most of his extended chance to impress at club level due to John Ruddy’s thigh injury lay-off, with Bunn protecting his own personal unbeaten Premier League record since a summer move at West Brom this weekend. The former Blackburn keeper knows consistent displays for his club could also help fill a vacancy for his country following Shay Given’s international retirement.
“I have always said it that if I managed to get into the team here I would want to push for the Irish squad as well,” he said. “It is something I am really working towards. It would be a massive honour to play for Ireland. Wes loves playing for Ireland. I don’t know what Pilks thinks. If he gets a call-up I think he would go. As long as I keep on doing well I would hope to be involved in the next game. My Nan and my Dad are Irish. We have a lot of family over in Ireland so there are some strong links.
“Now that Shay Given has retired as well there is a good chance because the other keepers are not really playing. As long as I keep doing well for Norwich, then I want to play for Ireland. (Keiren) Westwood has not really played this season. He is a really good goalkeeper and you have (David) Forde at Millwall but apart from that there are not many others in the mix.”
City boss Hughton has endorsed Bunn’s credentials to emulate his feats in representing the Emerald Isle.
“Yes I think so,” he said. “I think he is somebody that because of where he has been (he appreciates the chance). He was second choice keeper at Blackburn, he came here as understudy to John and from what I’ve seen he has done great. I presume to a lot of people he has still got things to prove. He wants to prove that he is worthy of a number one spot but from what I have seen and the abilities he has, then I don’t see any reason why not.
“I think what has helped perhaps is that he has come into a team that has been on a decent run so I think that always helps.
“You have also got to have good enough ability and you’ve got to have good enough confidence in your own ability. Because of the position he plays, it is a tough position to come into. If you are coming into a team that is doing okay then it can be more comfortable, but it is a tough position to come into and I’ve been delighted with him.”
Hughton believes Bunn’s form has helped cushion the major blow of losing England international Ruddy until well into the New Year.
“Mark has done very well. I’m pleased for him because when we brought him in he knew he was coming here under John Ruddy, who has been excellent for us,” he said. “But also he knew he was coming here to compete with him. I don’t think you would want any keeper to come here happy to be a number two week in week out, year in year out without the possibility of pushing for a number one spot. That is how you have to have your number two keeper and he is in the team of course, not because of John’s poor form but because of injury and it is up to him to make the most of that now.”