Whilst we’ve all been focusing on the forthcoming clash between England and Wales, English players have come under attack from another, who could easily be perceived as one of their own.
Liam Lawrence, the Portsmouth and Republic of Ireland midfielder, has hit out at English players who decide that they fancy playing for the Republic when they fail to gain England recognition.
In recent weeks, Stoke City winger Jermaine Pennant and Jamie O’Hara, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder currently on-loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers, have both suggested that they open to the idea of declaring for Ireland.
And Lawrence has suggested that the Irish camp aren’t particularly taken with those who see the Republic as a mere flag of convenience.
“The only thing I know upsets us is when people are trying to juggle between England and Ireland. That’s the only issue, really, and it’s not just me saying that. It doesn’t look good, does it?
“We don’t dislike these people, it is just some of the comments they come out with when they are saying they are juggling between Ireland and England – you just don’t want it, do you?”
Editor’s Comment: The point that he’s making is a very valid and acceptable one. Ireland shouldn’t want to go back to the scenario they had during the late 80’s and early 90’s when many English footballers were turning to the Republic, having been unable to make the breakthrough with the Three Lions.
However, on the flip-side, Spain have benefited from Brazilian-born Marcos Senna in recent times, Italy from Giuseppe Rossi (born in America) and Portugal from Deco and Pepe, so why shouldn’t the Irish benefit in a similar manner?
Furthermore the messenger from within the Irish camp, isn’t one of the more senior players – Shay Given, Robbie Keane or Richard Dunne. Instead it is Liam Lawrence, whose place could well come under threat from Pennant (as it did at Stoke, where Pennant effectively replaced Lawrence). He has more to lose than most from an English influx.
Final thought….Where was Liam Lawrence born?