Friday, 5 April 2013

Mark Can Get The Job Bunn!

Scott Gaynor 

Earlier this week Norwich City goalkeeper Mark Bunn expressed his disappointment at being overlooked for a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for last month’s World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

"It was disappointing not to make the squad for the last two games, but all I can do is continue to do my best for Norwich and hope I get a call-up next time," said Bunn (28).

"I have a very strong Irish connection. My dad's mum is from Maynooth, my dad considers himself Irish and so do I," he added.

"I know it would mean a lot to my grandmother to see me play for Ireland."

"She always talks about it and she's always hoped that her grandson could play for the Irish team."

I personally must admit that I was unaware of Bunn’s eligibility prior to this week’s news like, I speculate, many others were. Maybe ‘Il Gaffer’ Giovanni Trapattoni was too. But didn’t Bunn come out a few months ago to declare for Ireland? Perhaps you’ll forgive me for my oversight, but the Italian maestro
couldn’t possibly call for similar sympathy.

Way back on December 21st, the 6 foot stopper declared:

“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 and former Irish player and coach Chris Hughton has also vouched for the one-time Blackburn net-minder.

“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.”

The London born custodian has played 17 times for Norwich City this season in the Premier League with 3 more appearances coming via the less fashionable Carling Cup. With highly regarded John Ruddy suffering with injuries this campaign, Bunn has grabbed the opportunity to play more regularly with both hands, (like, I suppose, a ‘keeper should be doing) and has been earning rave reviews at Carrow Road.

Out of Favour: Westwood

When Shay Given sadly announced his retirement from International Football, Keiren Westwood assumed control of the number 1 jersey. However, his playing time has been limited to 3 Carling Cup games for Sunderland this season due to the good form of Belgium international Simon Mignolet. David Forde got the nod for the Poland friendly at the Aviva Stadium earlier in the year and was deemed the better option for the crunch qualifiers ahead of Westwood, with Bunn not considered. Galway native Forde acquitted himself
quite well, it has to be said, but I would still have question marks over his kicking ability and at 33, whether he is the long-term solution in that area.

David Forde: The man in the hot seat

Unproven: Randolph & Elliot

Darren Randolph, currently at Motherwell, has been in and around the Irish set-up at u21 and senior level for a while but he still has everything to prove and isn’t playing at the top level. Another English born option lies in Rob Elliot (26) who has recently stepped in for the injured Tim Krul at Newcastle, but having played for Ireland at youth level, he is remaining coy on his international future.

"I don't want to be arrogant and say which country I would like to play for. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself at the moment."

He added: "To be honest, I think it is far too early to talk about stuff like that. I just want to make a name for myself with Newcastle in the Premier League and anything that comes from there would be fantastic."

With a glamour friendly coming up for the Republic against England at the end of May, and the not-so-glamorous fixtures against Georgia and Wales (Bale might add a touch to be fair) coming either side of the Faroes qualifier, Trapattoni must not miss out on casting his eye over a Premier League talent like Bunn. I for one think the squad and country have suffered enough due to Trapattoni’s apparent unwillingness to give Norwich City players a chance quick enough.

If John Ruddy returns to full fitness and Bunn suffers the same plight as Westwood at Sunderland, you’d have to go with Forde, the man playing week-in and week-out at Milwall. The former Derry City man might even have an F.A. Cup medal to go with his hat to throw at top-corner destined pings come the big games against Sweden and Austria.

But last time out, against Sweden especially, the effect that an all Premiership back four had on the team was clear to see, and with added Premier League know-how supporting from behind, I think Ireland would be all the better for it. Over to you Trap.


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