Irish eyes smiling on Norwich City's Hoolahan
Paddy Davitt Norwich City's creative spark Wes Hoolahan believes he has the potential to shine on the international stage. Hoolahan is confident another impressive Canaries' campaign at Championship level this season can earn a recall to the Republic of Ireland's squad for their Euro2012 assault.
Norwich City's creative spark Wes Hoolahan believes he has the potential to shine on the international stage.
Hoolahan is confident another impressive Canaries' campaign at Championship level this season can earn a recall to the Republic of Ireland's squad for their Euro2012 assault.
The 28-year-old Dubliner has so far been restricted to one friendly outing under current Italian boss Giovanni Trapattoni - a 1-0 win over Colombia in 2008 at Craven Cottage. Hoolahan was again omitted for the Republic's midweek friendly defeat to Argentina which marked the official opening of the redeveloped Aviva Stadium. But one of the stars of City's League One title success is prepared to bide his time with Trapattoni's men opening their Euro2012 campaign next month away to Armenia.
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“Playing well in the Championship and doing well obviously means you have a better chance of being involved in the set up,” he said. “That is obviously my aim to do well for Norwich, firstly, and then you never know what might happen. I was involved in two friendlies and I went to Portugal for a training camp before and that was great. Of course, international football is another step up but I am confident in my own ability that I can play at that level.”
Hoolahan plundered 14 goals in City's League One title-winning season along with a bagful of assists for Grant Holt and Chris Martin. The trio combined again in midweek to dump Gillingham out of the Carling Cup.
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“It was great to have those two back,” he said. “Grant is a big player for us who has missed a bit of pre-season and it was good to see him and Chrissy on the scoresheet and scoring goals. Chrissy is a great finisher and you see that all the time in training. I managed to get a few last season and that is what I want to do again. I have a target in my own mind and I want to reach that as well as creating my fair share.
“We've got some different options now with Simeon (Jackson) who is quick and likes the ball in behind but with Grant and Chris they can hold the ball up with their back to defenders. Grant likes to tussle with players, hold his marker off, and lay the ball off again but for me I don't think you have to play any differently.”
Hoolahan is also relishing plenty of extra midfield rivalry this season.
“I think we have some good competition for places in those areas,” he said. “Andrew Crofts has come in and he is very comfortable on the ball. Foxy is a great passer of the ball who can see a lot of things and Surs (Andrew Surman) is another one who you can tell in training has great talent and time when in possession. It is enjoyable to play with these guys.”
Hoolahan admitted midweek cup success was the perfect tonic after last week's opening night defeat to Watford. City boss Paul Lambert was critical of his side's defending against the Hornets after Danny Graham cashed in on some lackustre marking in front of the Sky cameras. Hoolahan is under no illusions Norwich must be watertight at Championship level.
“You have to focus and defend as a team every game in the Championship,” he said. “You have to prepare properly - that is the most important thing. When we attack we can play some sublime football but at the other end we need to defend well as a team and get back behind the ball and into our positions. I want to win and I want the team to do well so if that means me chasing back and trying to win some headers, then so be it.
“It's always going to be difficult when you go up a level but I think we know what to expect after the Watford match. A few of the lads had not played in the Championship so it was a tough start but we can go into this weekend with some confidence.”