A highly confident Matt Doherty spoke to the media on Wednesday at Republic of Ireland training as he looks forward to life under Mick McCarthy for the second time in his career.
Doherty, who worked with Terry Conor and McCarthy at Wolves previously, has been in imperious form this season but may struggle to unseat current Republic of Ireland right-back, captain Seamus Coleman.
When asked by Pundit Arena about the battle for the number two jersey, and the relationship between himself and his international captain, Doherty was quick to quell murmurs of any form talk between the pair. It would appear the two have yet to speak about the big green elephant in the room.
“(Seamus and I) have obviously spoken a lot, but we haven’t spoken about form or anything like that. We just speak about normal football things and no, it’s not a case of, ‘oh I’m playing, how are you playing? How was your game on Saturday? Did I play better than you?’ Or anything like that.
“I mean we’re quite friendly so it’s just general football talk.”
Doherty has been utilised as a right wing-back by Nuno Espirito Santo this season, excelling as a two-way player, particularly when driving forward with the ball. So much so, that two of the top five most successful passes in the Premier League this season have been Conor Coady-to-Matt Doherty, and Ruben Neves-to-Matt Doherty.
The reasons for this success, Doherty says, are the dynamic tactics employed by the Wolves boss.
“It’s just kind of the way we play. We like to switch the ball a lot, all of the time. The range of passing is obviously unbelievable. The top two in the league, as you said, and it’s accurate too. It’s always in front of me, it’s always where it needs to be.
“The way we play is a lot of switches. Once we circulate the ball to one side, we try to get out the other side as quickly as we can. When I’m playing right wing back on my own, I do get a lot of space. It works for us at the moment.
“Teams did try to figure us out at one point, then we changed to three midfielders, and that’s working for us at the moment.”
With neither Coady nor Neves donning a green jersey, Doherty may find space and supply difficult to come by during the clashes with Georgia and Gibraltar. However, when asked by Pundit Arena if his new role and the lack of space will frustrate him, he remained upbeat.
“I don’t think (it’ll be frustrating having less space if I’m playing wide right). I mean if that’s the way it is, I want to be successful. I can’t just expect everywhere I go to be like Wolves. It’s just not going to be the case.
“I’m just going to have to get used to whatever my role is here and try to play as well as I can in that role, and do the best for Ireland.”
Regardless of the will-he won’t-he merry-go-round selection dilemma at right back, it’s clear that Doherty is brimming with positivity and confidence, and that is a dangerous mix. Just ask any left-sided Premier League player.
“Confidence is everything. I’m super confident at the moment… My confidence is sky-high.”
A confident Ireland side is something we’ve been lacking in recent times, and Doherty’s attitude is much-welcomed as we enter a new dawn under an old son.
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