Wes Hoolahan backed for World Cup

PUBLISHED: 07:41 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:40 10 September 2010

Wes Hoolahan is good enough for the Republic of Ireland squad, says team-mate Stephen Hughes

Wes Hoolahan is good enough for the Republic of Ireland squad, says team-mate Stephen Hughes

Stephen Hughes has backed fellow midfielder Wes Hoolahan for a role in the Republic of Ireland's World Cup bid. Hoolahan has made just one senior appearance for his country - last May when he came on for two minutes in a 1-0 win over Colombia at Fulham's Craven Cottage.

Stephen Hughes has backed fellow midfielder Wes Hoolahan for a role in the Republic of Ireland's World Cup bid.

Hoolahan has made just one senior appearance for his country - last May when he came on for two minutes in a 1-0 win over Colombia at Fulham's Craven Cottage.

But he has hit top form with the Canaries - and there could be an opening under Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni, who is expected to name his squad tomorrow for the vital two-legged qualifier against France next month, which will determine whether they go to South Africa next summer.

Trapattoni is definitely missing Steven Reid through injury while Andy Reid appears to be out of favour with the Italian - and Hughes believes Hoolahan should be considered for a ticket.

“I'm quite surprised he only has the one cap,” said Hughes, who made his own international debut for Scotland in Japan earlier this month.

“Form wise he has been brilliant for us this season, he's been excellent. I think he could definitely in the international team, no problem. The quality he is showing at this level I think he could play in the Championship or even the Premier League -I think he could hold his own there as well.

“It's obviously for the Irish FA to decide who they pick, but I don't think he would be too far away from their thoughts.”

Hoolahan has been a revelation since being recalled by City boss Paul Lambert, who dropped him for three games early in his Carrow Road tenure, but recalled him for the big game against Charlton and has kept faith with him ever since, deploying him in a devastating role at the peak of a diamond formation.

The 27-year-old Hoolahan responded with three goals in seven league games and is already halfway towards his season's best haul of 10, when he helped Blackpool to promotion from League One in 2006-07.

“He is one of those players where you just need to keep giving him the ball because he can make things happen and he has shown for us this season that if you can keep giving him the ball in the right areas he can turn the game for us and he can make things happen,” added Hughes.

“He has been quality since I've been here.

“There are a lots of ifs and buts, but he has to keep playing the way he is for Norwich and whatever comes from that will be a bonus for him.”

While Hoolahan is bang on his game, it's starting to become a frustrating time for Hughes, who missed last weekend's home win over Swindon because of a thigh injury.

The Scot has yet to finish two games in a row for City as he struggles to fend of niggling injuries - possibly a hangover from missing much of pre-season.

“It's nothing major,” he said. “I have a thigh strain which I aggravated Friday before training which forced me to miss the game on Saturday.

“I don't know if it's because I missed a big chunk of pre-season, but I seem to be picking up a lot of niggling injuries which I've never really had in the past few years.

“Hopefully I can get fit and play as many games as I can. It's frustrating, especially when you were in the team and of course you want to stay in the team. It's disappointing, but the team is still winning, which is good, and if I can get back soon that will be good as well.”

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