Aston Villa's Joleon Lescott, Ciaran Clark, Alan Hutton, Ashley Westwood and Mark Bunn
Ciaran Clark is eager to put the pain of relegation with Aston Villa behind him by earning a place in Martin O'Neil's final Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2016, Goal.com has reported.
Having been part of a Villa defence that conceded a league high of 76 goals, the centre-back endured a hugely difficult season in the Midlands, with the division's bottom side eventually relegated with just 17 points.
Aston Villa's Brad Guzan, Ciaran Clark and teammates look dejected after Watford's third goal
But despite Villa's desperately poor season, Clark insists a successful Euro 2016 campaign with Ireland will provide him with a much-needed pick-me-up.
Clark told reporters after Ireland’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium: "It’s been a tough season for Aston Villa.
"To go down the way we did it wasn’t nice, but hopefully now if I can get involved, make sure I’m fit, and training well, and if I can push to get on the plane, that would be a high for me personally.
Aston Villa fans with a banner before the match
"I’d like to think that I have learned a lot through the tough times but I’d also like to think I’d try and do well no matter where I play. Like I said, I’ll just be working hard and training hard and hopefully I can be on that plane."
Clark's chances of earning a place in O'Neil's final 23-man squad for the trip to France are looking good, with Alex Pearce and Paul McShane both dropped to the standby list, meaning the 26-year-old is one of four centre-backs in the initial 31-man squad.
But Clark insists he is taking nothing for granted, adding: "It’s a long, long way away. The squad hasn’t been picked or named yet so there’s still places up for grabs."
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the Press Conference