Harry Arter keen to ‘cement’ his place in Ireland’s midfield

28-year-old looks to put indifferent season at Bournemouth behind him in friendlies

Harry Arter during Ireland training in Abbotstown  on Friday ahead of the friendly game against France in Paris. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Harry Arter during Ireland training in Abbotstown on Friday ahead of the friendly game against France in Paris. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Harry Arter is hoping he can re-establish himself as central to Martin O’Neill’s plans over the next week or so after a season in which he feels he has drifted to the margins.

The 28-year-old midfielder lost what had pretty much been an automatic starting spot at Bournemouth early in the season and did not make a solitary first-team appearance after the cup defeat by Wigan in mid January.

For most of the time he was simply overlooked by manager Eddie Howe but a calf injury sustained in training ultimately kept him out of Ireland’s trip to Turkey and he now finds himself trying to break back in with the international team, he suggests, as O’Neill weighs up his options for the games in France and against the USA.

“I’m not experienced at international level,” he says. “I’ve only played 11 or 12 times so this is a massive opportunity for me to cement myself into this squad permanently. I haven’t played a lot this year for Bournemouth so I’m thankful to the manager [O’Neill] just for putting me in the squad, that’s the truth. But the only way I can stay in the squad on the basis of my performances.

“I think it’s obvious that the group has changed a lot, the manager has picked a lot of new players and everybody is fighting for their place. A lot of players have been brought in for the first time and the players who have been here for a long time know that it’s the start of a new, fresh time for Ireland.

“I think there’s a real hunger in the squad. Nobody has looked out of place the last few days but going into a big game against France and having the confidence to perform on a big stage like that sets the best apart.

“When the World Cup comes around it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if they [the French] won it so to play against them is a great experience and obviously from a personal point of view you want to put in a big performance. If we got a result it would set our stall out for the other games that we have coming up.”

By the time they come around, Arter’s club future should be much clearer. He is, he says, anxious to play regular first-team football but acknowledges that Howe had his decision to make, something they discussed when the season had concluded.

“I felt the end of the season was probably the best time for us to have an honest chat,” he says. “Obviously he’s got a massive job to do at the start of the season but the success that we’ve been had on the pitch has been huge, the relationship has been good and still is at this point.

“I have a huge respect for him; he gave me my opportunity back in football and now in the Premier League, he’s given me three good years, so the respect will always be there from me to him and it’s the same from him to me. He thanked me for my efforts this year, for having a good attitude and for being a good person around the changing room. We’ll see what happens in the summer.”

Arter and the rest of the squad fly out to Paris on Saturday. Eunan O’Kane has been ruled out of the game with a shoulder injury and won’t travel while Callum O’Dowda sat out training on Friday with a groin strain. Brentford midfielder Alan Judge has been drafted into the squad.

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