Arter aiming to make up for lost time in a green jersey

Notts Forest midfielder happy to answer Kenny’s call back to international duty

There are plenty of memories for Harry Arter to mull over during the quieter times this week around the Ireland squad.

It was against England a little over four years ago that he made his senior international debut and much more recently, he reveals, Fulham's promotion celebrations were at the same London hotel where he and the rest of the players are staying in the run up to Thursday's game at Wembley.

Both events were special moments for the now 30-year-old but neither has led him quite where he might have hoped.

Injuries have certainly been a problem on the international front with momentum hard to build when you are missing games but inconsistency has been a bit of an issue too with Arter's judgement sometimes letting him down during games, something that has provided a counter argument to his obvious ability. Then, of course, there was the falling out with Roy Keane and the brief period of self-imposed exile that followed.


Asked to reflect on his time around the international set-up, he initially agrees with the suggestion that there has been a mix of “highs and lows” but as he speaks about missing out on the squad for Euro2016, the team then missing out on the World Cup and his own inability to nail down a regular place, he does seem to have packed in quite a few disappointments.

He might have left it at that, he suggests, but for the fact that Kenny came to talk to him and outlined the part he saw him playing within the team and the influence he hoped he would exert around a squad that was about to have an injection of youth.

“It was very much the case that the confidence and belief that I felt he had in me to come back and make a difference, or at least be involved, [made up my mind],” he says.

“The older you get, the more you really appreciate someone believing in you. That in itself was something that just made me really excited to come along and work with him. And I had watched his under-21 teams. They played a real good brand of football; one I can hopefully learn from and help with in the same breath.”

If Kenny can get the best out of Arter it will be a mutually beneficial relationship. Despite a mistake in the build-up to the goal that decided the game, the manager was full of praise for the midfielder after the home defeat by Finland a couple of months ago and there were certainly times when he exerted a positive influence on the team, passing the ball well and striving to drive those around him forward.

There have been a few false dawns at this stage, though. His hope is, he says, that a run in the team now will improve perceptions.

“Internationals are always tough because you have such a large break between games. If you have a bad performance you potentially won’t play the next game and you could be waiting for four to five months before you can get a run.

“I haven’t been consistently in the team over a period of time, which is obviously disappointing. I’ll be 31 in December but with the way the manager wants to play here, I feel that hopefully suits the way I want to play.”

Positive reviews

That style of his, the tenacity he shows when trying to win the ball, the eagerness to use it well, attracted some very positive reviews during his Premier League days with Bournemouth but ultimately he lost his place then drifted entirely out of the manger's plans.

Having subsequently gone to Fulham on loan and helped them to get promotion, something he expresses great pride in, the club decided against exercising an option to buy for what was not really a great deal of money.

Now, he is starting again at Nottingham Forest and under another new manager with Chris Hughton having replaced the one who bought him, Sabri Lamouchi following the club's dreadful start to the season.

Injury intervened again just as the former Ireland international arrived as club boss but Arter is featuring at the moment and is fitter to play on Thursday, he insists, than he was the day he made his international debut.

"I actually had to pull out after the game," he recalls. "We had Scotland and I was struggling with my groin but there was nothing that was going to stop me making my debut in that game and yeah, going back now, the excitement of it all, it's something that everybody dreams about doing.

“It was a nice summer’s day in Dublin, all my family had come over and it’s something that I always look back on with so much pride.”

Wembley, he hopes, will be another one of those highs. One of many still to come in a green jersey.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times