Hunt hopes Premier League spotlight will aid Ireland recallBy Jonny Fordham
May 09, 2012
Noel Hunt is hoping that the Premier League spotlight will help him force his way back into the Republic of Ireland squad next season.
The Reading striker was over-looked for Giovanni Trappatoni’s squad for the European Championships next month, but he insists he will be the Emerald Isle’s biggest armchair supporter in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
Hunt’s brother Stephen was named in the final 23 along with other former Royals Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Simon Cox and loanee Darren O’Dea.
Hunt said: “I didn’t watch the announcement as I knew I wouldn’t be in there. I think Premier League football next season will help me with Ireland. It’s the biggest stage in the world to be playing on.”
Hunt last pulled on the green jersey for a World Cup qualifier against Montenegro in October 2009.
However, a chronic knee injury that season saw him fall off the radar at international level and he has been unable to add to his four caps since.
The former Dundee United, Dunfermline and Shamrock Rovers star has come back fitter and stronger and helped Royals to promotion this year as he played a key role, scoring eight goals in 41 appearances.
He said: “I’m looking to get myself stronger and quicker for the new season. I’ve already started my pre-season training and I’ve got a personal trainer booked for June too.
“I get along with the Ireland manager really well, but I was out for a while and then didn’t get a look-in so it makes sense that he sticks with the squad he has.
“He’s a fair man and if it was the other way round and I had been in the squad and then someone else came in I would be a bit gutted,” added the 28-year-old.
“It’s great for all of the other guys. I’m delighted for them.
“It’s massive for the whole country and I’m really looking forward to watching the boys out there in the Euros.
“I would never ask Stephen to put in a word for me either.
“I just wanted him to focus on himself and make sure he got into the squad.”