Aston Villa's in-form Ciaran Clark hoping for Ireland rewards

The centre-back believes his club form has put him on course to land a regular starting role with the Republic of Ireland.

Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark has told AVTV that he hopes his club form will earn him a regular role in the Republic of Ireland side.

Cark, 25, represented England from Under-17 to Under-20 level but, after making a promising start to his Villa career, was approached in September 2010 about switching his international allegiances to Ireland, who he qualifies for through his grandparents.

After committing the following month, the Bedfordshire-native has since gone on to earn 10 senior caps but, despite former Villa manager Martin O’Neill now being at the helm, has so far struggled to hold down a consistent starting spot.

The problem was compounded when he started to fall out of favour at Villa over the second half of last season and began this term as the club’s fourth-choice centre-back but, since earning his chance to impress in November after injuries to Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker, there can be few arguments against his international credentials.

Starting 21 of 23 games, while striking up a fantastic rapport with centre-back partner Jores Okore, fans are even calling for him to win the club’s Player of the Year award and, heading into the weekend's Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland, he should now have an excellent chance of making the starting XI.

“To be picked for international games, you need to be almost a permanent fixture for your club so, now that I’ve been playing games, I’d like to think that I’ve got a good chance of being involved,” he said.

“Martin O’Neill will have been watching my games and will know what’s been going on. Last time I went away I wasn’t really playing much and he did mention that I had to go and get games. The injuries obviously then came, I got my opportunity and I’ve been playing since.”

Pitted in a group with Germany, Poland, Scotland, Georgia and Gibraltar, Ireland face a tough task to make their second straight European Championships but Clark believes that there are more than enough points for the taking over the final six qualifiers.

“It’ll be a tough ask to get through but the squad is good enough and the confidence is there that we can progress,” he added. “Now it’s about beating the teams that are fighting for the same places we are.

“We’ve got some tough games coming up – Poland and then Scotland – so they’ll be two tough games which everyone will be well up for.”

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