Liam Lawrence feels Ireland recall is unlikely after three-year absence
Barnsley new boy to line out against Dundalk in friendly at Oriel Park tonight
Liam Lawrence: is not giving up entirely on a recall to the Irish set-up.
Liam Lawrence makes a long overdue return to Ireland over the coming days as Barnsley, who he joined last week, head to Oriel Park for a friendly, but the 32-year-old believes his chances of an international recall are slim after an absence of nearly three years during which he has faced some difficult times on the club front.
“You never know but I would doubt it very much,” admits the former Sunderland and Stoke City midfielder who has just returned to England after a spell in Greece with PAOK.
“I’d have to see if I can stay fit and in the team and if that happens then you never know, do you, but I’d doubt it really.”
Lawrence says that the reaction of the players he is still in touch with has been positive to working with the new management team and he is certainly an admirer but while he steers clear of the subject, his own track record of working with Roy Keane at Sunderland may not do much for his cause at this stage.
Still, the player feels that he still has a good deal to offer at Barnsley, where Dubliner Stephen Dawson and Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt were already a part of the set-up. The club is currently languishing at the foot of the Championship but secured its first win in eight games last Saturday when Lawrence made his debut as a late substitute against Blackpool.
‘I need games’
“I need games; that’s for sure,” he says. “I played 10 minutes at the weekend, which is a start, and hopefully now in Ireland I’ll play 45 which would be a help. I’m starting to feel sharp again, I felt really sharp yesterday but I haven’t played much at all this season so I’ve still a way to go before I’m 100 per cent again.”
Lawrence started well in Greece but the appointment of Dutch coach Huub Stevens last summer marked a major a change in his fortunes.
“I knew things were going to be different straight away,” he says, “and while I did play a couple of European games and a couple in the league, I didn’t play much after. By September I knew the way things were, that it was time to get away, and at Christmas I spoke to a few clubs so I’m happy to be here now.”
He turned down a couple of offers from League One sides to join Barnsley who, he admits, have their work cut out to avoid being there next season. “It’ll take some hard work,” he says, “but I think we’ll get out of it, I really do. It’s a good club and a good bunch of lads and the atmosphere in the dressing room has changed after last week’s win so we have this break and then back for Blackburn on Tuesday which is a really big game for us.”
With a calf strain having contributed to his problems over the first half of the season, he needs to prove himself in order to secure a deal for next season.
But for the moment he is happy playing again, closer to his home in Stoke, where his family stayed, and in with a shout, at least, of catching the new international manager’s eye.