Meyler aims to take chance
David Meyler is ready to help spearhead a new generation of Republic of Ireland stars as he attempts to force his way into Giovanni Trapattoni's plans.
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7. David Meyler
The 23-year-old Sunderland midfielder, currently on loan at npower Championship Hull, is desperate to make up for lost time after fighting his way back from two serious knee injuries.
But with the 73-year-old Italian planning to look at some of his other options in Wednesday night's friendly against Greece at the Aviva Stadium, he is hoping for a chance to prove that he, along with the likes of Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady, has a role to play.
Meyler said: "It's the pinnacle of any footballer's career and it's a great honour. You look at players like Robbie Keane and John O'Shea, Damien Duff, fellas who have done it for years, and that's what a few of us young lads are trying to emulate.
"Come Wednesday night, I'll be dying to play, I'll be desperate to play. It's all I want to do.
"That's down to the manager, but I'm hoping that if I train well enough, I'll get a game. I've played in the last two or three games, so I'll be looking forward to hopefully playing."
The fact that he is available at all is testament to Meyler's resilience after the injury nightmare which effectively cost him two seasons.
He said: "It's mentally draining on anybody, to be injured for such a long time.
"To spend nine months out injured and then come back and spend nine months out injured [again], it's hard work.
"It takes a lot out of you physically and mentally. It's all behind me now.
"I am back a good 14 months and I am just looking forward to playing as many games as I can and impressing as many people as I can, to get back to were I was three years ago, playing week in, week out in the Premier League, and that's my intention."
Ideally, Meyler wants to force his way back into the picture at Sunderland, and that is why he was so keen to accept former manager Steve Bruce's offer of regular football at the KC Stadium.
He said: "I've just got to keep working hard. I have no doubt in my own ability and I'm confident I can break into that team and play regularly."
Meanwhile, Meyler has come to the defence of fellow Black Cat McClean, who found himself the target of fresh abuse at the weekend after he opted not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt for Sunderland's 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Everton.
He said: "James is James. James is his own man, I respect his decision.
"His friends and family were involved in Bloody Sunday, so it's understandable.
"A lot of people have blown it up a bit too much. It's not that big of a deal for him. It's a family decision, it's his call and I respect his decision.
"He's a close pal of mine. I think people in England have jumped on the bandwagon a bit too easily and come out and nailed him and hammered him a bit, and it's a bit unfair."