Confidence crucial for Clarks Euro dreams.
CIARAN CLARK, a player not getting much game time at Premier League strugglers Aston Villa, talks routinely about his ambitions for the upcoming Euro 2016 campaign.
Up until this point in the season, the English born defender has not featured in many of The Villain’s games (11) and perhaps this imminent tournament is vital for the young man’s footballing future.
He has admitted that the pressure was mounting not only with Villa but with Ireland also, stating that: “halfway through the qualifying stage, there was a stage where people thought we couldn’t do it anymore. It was a massive confidence boost and a great feeling to get through.”
After the foggy debacle in Bosnia when Ireland secured a 1 – 1 draw thanks to the goal that nobody saw, it was back to the Aviva to settle the encounter.
Having scored mid-way through the first half thanks to a Jonathan Walters penalty, Ciaran felt just like the rest of us that another goal was crucial for Ireland’s chances of qualifying. “I think we always needed that second goal. It was obviously nervy knowing if they scored, there would be a chance of blowing it really,” he stated. He was proved right when Walters again popped up and secured the win with his second of the game.
Following this recent victory, Clark’s next football was back at club level with Villa, though with the latest result against the Bosnians, it would be understandable that his frame of mind was with the forthcoming draw. “There was a bit of a wait then for the draw and that was the next thing. Obviously we got the draw and there was a buzz then. It’s a difficult group but we’ll go into the group full of confidence knowing that if we can get a couple of points it could be good enough,” Clark said.
From such confidence, it is palpable that Clark did not fear any potential opponents, “No matter who you are drawn against in those competitions, you are always going to get a tough group,” he declared.
Nor do the respected individual opponents scare him either. Ireland, injuries and suspensions notwithstanding, will face some of Europe’s fiercest strikers in the shapes of Zlatan Ibrahomivich, Romelu Lukaku and Graziano Pelle, but this prospect does not faze Clark all that much. “I’ve played against a couple of them before. You are always in for tough games against the top players. There are top players all throughout those teams,” he acknowledged.
The two results against world champions Germany, who featured players like Toni Kroos, Mezut Ozil, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller and World Cup final winning goal scorer, Mario Gotze, playing in both games, have galvanized this Irish team. Getting four points from six in these matches has brought about a no fear attitude for all to see. Clark, although on the bench for the game in Germany has fond memories of John O’Shea’s goal, and substitute Shane Long’s 70th minute winner beating world number 1 goalkeeper and German captain Manuel Neuer, back at the Aviva. “Longy’s goal was just unbelievable. Them four points obviously proved to be a massive difference. It was a massive, great feeling,” he added.
Asked about the prospect of being included in Martin O’Neill’s squad to travel to France, Clark is quoted as saying: “If I can keep playing and keep getting games and stay injury free, fingers crossed, I can be part of the squad that goes over. That will come nearer to the time when everyone knows the situation with who’s fit and who has been playing. Towards the end of the season everyone will know a lot more,” he said with an air of confidence.