Stephen Hunt & Ian Harte talk recovery & Saipan

Wolves and Republic of Ireland star, Stephen Hunt was one of the main guests on Sunday morning’s ‘iTalkSport’ (Setanta Sports, Sundays at 11.30) whilst on the 10th anniversary of Saipan, read what Reading’s Ian Harte recalls of those momentous events years later.

Harte has played a major role in Reading’s quest for Championships honours with the Berkshire club. But first off the thoughts of Stephen Hunt on his chances of being in Trap’s Euro 2012 finals squad.and on the plight of the Wolves::

Stephen on his recovery:

“Like everyone, you’re looking to start. Be in the starting eleven for the first couple of games. It’s massively important you try and get some games under your belt. I’m sure Richard Dunne is looking after himself, making sure he’s fit for the Euros. He’s got a shoulder injury so he won’t be rushing. He loves playing for Ireland that much.
My injury is going to be fine. I’m hoping to be back training next week…I’ve been sprinting around like a mad thing for the last two or three day’s thinking ‘Oh I can actually run again’. It will be good to get going.

On Making Trapattoni’s squad:

“You’re going to be nervous. There are a lot of players playing well. My aim is to be in the starting eleven. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s the only thing I can do.
He’s (James McCarthy) playing very well in fairness. He’s come over from Derry and in the space of a year Martin O’Neill has done wonders for him. He gave him his chance and he’s produced on the big stage so he’ll feel like he deserves his chance like anyone”.

Praise for Duff:

“Damien Duff’s been around for ten years, try and replace him! It’s a difficult task because he’s a dedicated individual who’s professional. He’s someone who I, Seamus Coleman and Aiden McGeady look up to”.

On Wolves relegation fight:

“You come in after games and you’re heated. The run we’ve been on, basically 5-6-7 nils beside Wolves in terms of losing games. If you’re not heated and having arguments then something’s wrong.
I probably understand the (Wolves) board when they did it (sacked Mick McCarthy) to a certain degree because results haven’t been good. We take responsibility too. It’s not all Mick McCarthy’s fault, we’re to blame too.
At the time everyone thought yeah we’ll get a new manager. Looking back on it now, we probably would have more points under McCarthy. To be fair to TC (Terry Connor), he’s come in and done a good job. He’s given the players what they want in terms of putting an arm around them, bit of love. Unfortunately we haven’t responded to his kindness to a certain degree”.

Gary Breen has rarely commented on ‘the split’ at World Cup 2002, ten years ago this summer:

“I’m not sure how many of the lads (his former Rep of Ireland colleagues) have commented on Saipan but I never really have because I’ll always look back on it with a heavy heart. It was such a disappointment that it happened that way. We worked so hard as a group of players to get to the World Cup and to have an iconic player like Roy Keane, who was feared throughout the world, it would have been great to have him there. But unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.

Ireland is the priority, not any one individual. People said that we needed Roy at the time, he was an iconic figure for Manchester United no doubt about it and his performances throughout that campaign were nothing short of sensational, but it’s never about one individual, it’s about Ireland and that must always come first.

My main thinking behind it all was that it was a disaster that it happened. Whether you were on Mick’s side or Roy’s side, it was a disaster that it happened.
What I would say in terms of going to see Roy afterwards was that he was a teammate. I was just saying all the best. I wasn’t going to let any teammate just go off and leave the squad (without saying goodbye).

At that particular time, I’d had a groin problem leading into that [the 2002 World Cup] and Roy had been very helpful to me in terms of recommending a particular surgeon to use that United were using at the time. So he was great like that. I felt like, ‘listen I don’t agree with you leaving but all the best’.

It always leaves a bad taste in my mouth that so many people are writing books and giving their spin on what actually happened. I know what happened. I know what consequently happened and I’m happy with each decision I made at that particular time knowing the facts at that moment.”

Some interesting comments there from Stephen and from Ian. As so many of our readers do not have access to Setanta Sports or are out on Sunday mornings , we bring you each week some of the most pertinent comments from Setanta’s ‘iTalkSport show Sunday’s at 11.30. Join us again next week when we hear what a new panel has to say on happenings in the World of Sport.


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