Richard Dunne claims Ciaran Clark has declared for Ireland
Last week, we reported here on GreenScene that Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark was been watched by the FAI and had been approached by Don Givens about the possibility of playing for the Republic of Ireland. According to the AVFC website this morning, Clark has now declared for Ireland, after encouragement from fellow Villa defender and 60-cap Ireland player Richard Dunne.
Richard Dunne claims full responsibility for the player’s change of allegiance to Ireland.
“I had a word with Clarky a couple of months ago, so I’m to blame,” Dunne admits. “I went straight onto our recruitment guy and he’s been in touch. It’s great. I think he has declared so once it goes through it will be great to have him in the squad.
“He’s certainly going to be a top player. I think for Ireland it’ll be outstanding, to have a young player of his talent in the squad.
“He’s absolutely brilliant. It’s just a matter of time before he breaks through and commands a position instead of someone older than Clarky playing all the time. That’s the way it will be because as a defender it always take that little bit longer because managers tend to want that experience at the back.
“But he’s got everything to come shining through as a star player. I think his mother’s Irish so whether she’s been putting pressure on or not, I don’t know. He’s open to it, he wants to play international football and it might come soon. The opportunity is there for him.”
Clark has been catapulted into the limelight after making the step up to first team football at Villa Park under the tutelage of Reserves boss and temporary Caretaker Manager Kevin MacDonald. He played alongside Dunne in central defence against West Ham and Newcastle, before picking up a knock.
“Ciaran has been outstanding over the past few years at this football club – at a younger age – and then he made his debut against Fulham,” said MacDonald. “He did very, very well but was unlucky from the point of view that Richard Dunne and James Collins came in the day after who themselves were probably the best pair in the country for the rest of the season.
“He was also unlucky that, because he was on the bench quite a lot, we wouldn’t let him go on loan where he might have got a little bit more experience. He agreed to sign for us and we utilised him as best as we could.
However, he’s also in new manager Gerard Houllier’s plans, and started against Blackburn in the League Cup, and returned to the bench for last weekend’s league game against Tottenham.
Dunne is looking forward to playing alongside Clark more in the future, and not just at club level. “It would be great to play alongside Clarky for Ireland,” Dunne admits. “We’ve got a couple of young centre halves coming through and I think with Ciaran added to that it will just make the squad so much stronger.
“Sometimes you get to a point where you can’t see any more players coming through for Ireland. So if you can get players like Clarky playing, other people in a similar situation to him might decide to follow him and play for Ireland.”