Doyle And Long's Irish Excitement
Kevin Doyle will put his hamstring injury worry behind him and is hoping of a starting place in the Republic Of Ireland historic European qualifier against Wales on Saturday.
Doyle, who tore his hamstring in Reading`s January fixture against Everton, has started only one game since then this year but is sure he`ll be absolutely fine for the international match.
Ireland`s Euro qualifier line-up against Wales is made extra special as it is to be the first international football match held at the 82,300 capacity Croke Park:
'There will be 80,000 people watching. It`s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere, very emotional, and you want to be involved in something as special as that.'
Doyle featured in the last part of Reading`s goalless draw on Saturday and is certain he shouldn`t have any injury problems going into Saturday`s international fixture:
'I wasn't 100% sure before I came on, but it felt really good and I wasn't at all afraid of the hamstring going."
'It's brilliant to be back in the squad. I didn't know for certain until Thursday, when Steve Staunton rang the gaffer to see if I was fit.
'The gaffer asked me, I said I was fit - but then I was always going to say that!'
But Doyle will face competition for a starting place in the Ireland line-up from Reading team-mate Shane Long.
Long, who benefited from Doyle`s injury with a spell in the first team, will also be hoping to feature in Steve Staunton`s plans on Saturday.
And the 20-year-old is no stranger to Croke Park, having competed in hurling events for his home town, Tipperary, there on two different occasions.
And Long is eager to be a part of the first football match there too:
"It`s the first football game to be played there so it`s an historic occasion and I can`t wait," said Long. "I have played there twice before in hurling when I was 16 and 17.
"I played in two All-Ireland minor semi-finals and we lost both, so hopefully it will be third time lucky for me.
"When I played there it was full because minor games are played before the seniors. It`s an amazing stadium and I am looking forward to getting back there.'
And if Long features on Saturday the plucky young striker could write himself into the Republic of Ireland history books:
"Hopefully I will get the chance to be the first person to play both hurling and football there.
"I have to get on the pitch first before that happens, but it would be a cool record to have.
And Long, just like Doyle spoke of his excitement at the prospect of playing in front of a full capacity stadium:
"It`s an amazing ground with 80,000 Irish people going mad. It will be brilliant and a great atmosphere and I can`t wait."
But until Saturday Shane will not know how he features in Steve Staunton`s plans: "I don`t know what role I am going to play, I`m just going to go there, do my best and hopefully get a run-out."
Meanhwile Doyle does not believe that he and Long going together creates rivalry between the two, he recollected:
'I was going away with Ireland on my own last year - so to have three of us going is brilliant."
The third Doyle refers to is of course Reading`s other Irishman Stephen Hunt who is also featuring for Ireland since breaking into the Royals first team this season.