Austria clash is the perfect chance for Harry Arter to shine
Kevin Kilbane explains why the Bournemouth man deserves to get his competitive debut in a crucial game11:00 Saturday 29 October 2016, 11:00 29 Oct 2016
There's no doubting that the Ireland squad is going through a lot of changes at the moment, and after some great performances at the Euros, Martin O'Neill now needs to help the team kick on and make it to the World Cup.
A number of players really staked their claim in France, but there are also plenty of others who are itching to get into the squad and show what they can do at international level. Key among them is Harry Arter, a player who is already showing signs that he has developed a lot this season.
He spoke to us recently on Off the Ball and acknowledged that last season he did have some trouble on the pitch. Obviously, he had some personal issues away from the game, which he has spoken about, and people do tend to forget that footballers are human too, at times.
There are any number of issues that can contribute to a player not being at their best, and Arter also suffered from injuries which kept him from really hitting top form.
This time around, however, he's got a good pre-season under his belt, and he's reaping the benefits of that preparation. He was the best player on the pitch against Tottenham last weekend, and even with all the attacking talent that they have, he was by far and away the standout player.
Next to him in that Bournemouth midfield is Jack Wilshere. He would have played with the likes of Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal, players who can dictate a game from that bit deeper, and he sees something similar in Arter - that potential in him to make the grade at one of the teams at the top of the Premier League.
As to why he's not there already?Well, by his own admission, his attitude when he was coming through in the academy at Charlton wasn't right. He dropped down to non-league football and when you do that, there's nowhere else to go. That type of thing really focuses a player, it can make you realise that you might have the ability, but you're not showing it.
When Bournemouth snapped him up for £4,000, they nabbed the bargain of the century. Think about that figure, and what he's done to get himself back from that low ebb. His reaction has been first class, and that's why he's a success story now.
Image: ©INPHO/Gary Carr
Every step up that he's made in his career, he has gotten better and better. If I were a manager, I would look for players like that; players who have made a big transition in their careers and shown themselves to be able to adjust and prove their worth over time.
It's little wonder, then, that O'Neill and Keane have been trying bring him into the Ireland squad and give him that first competitive start. It won't be a factor in their thinking, but there has been some silly speculation about whether or not he's sticking with Ireland, which lead to some comments that Arter himself described as vile.
I don't think I would have been on social media as a player, I don't think I would have exposed myself or my family to it. I would have hoped that I didn't need to, but many players may have to be for marketing reasons or whatever it might be.
I'm in a different position maybe, one that not many were in; I grew up wanting to play for Ireland and everyone knew that. Once you commit, then you're committed, and I don't have a problem with players who have truly done that. The problem comes when players are trying to use us to get into another squad or national team.
That has never been the case for Arter, he's been on board from day one. I don't see any reason for any negativity towards him from fans, and there definitely won't be within the squad.
Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
When Arter was asked about the issue, I think he was embarrassed about it, maybe even a bit pissed off with it. He didn't even want to answer questions, to even dignify it with a response, but then the story becomes that he wasn't talking about it, so there must be a reason why.
With James McCarthy likely injured, there should be little doubt about Arter featuring in green at this point. Although it looked as though O'Neill was moving away from Glenn Whelan and trying to play a younger midfield, Austria away is the type of game that has his name written all over it.
However, Arter has been our best midfielder so far this season. He would work whether he is next to Whelan as part of a midfield two, or - in the shape that I prefer - the diamond. We have the players in James McClean, Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick that to really make that system work to our advantage.
As a physical player, Arter covers the ground, and he definitely likes a challenge, but he can also hang on to the ball and help us keep possession. Given what he's done so far this season, this is the perfect chance for him to make a difference and force his way into O'Neill's plans.
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