Galway native and Queens Park Rangers ace, Ryan Manning has been catching the eye in the Championship of late and now hopes his performances have not gone unnoticed by Republic of Ireland boss, Martin O’Neill.
With the massive clash with Wales next month at the Aviva, World Cup qualification is on course for next summer and a win over Group D rivals on March 24 will go a long way towards cementing a place in Russia.
The midfielder is, however, keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he knows just how close he came to returning home after failing to impress a series of managers at Loftus Road.
As reported in The Sun, Manning has his new boss Ian Holloway to thank for giving him his chance when his future at the club looked bleak before a change in management before Christmas last year.
“Everyone says you need a bit of luck, there are lots of good footballers who don’t make it because they haven’t been lucky enough to get the opportunity.
“It was looking like I was going to need to go somewhere else to get an opportunity to play, but luckily enough, it came at the right time for me to get a chance.
“To get an opportunity to go out and play and show what I can do, I was just delighted with how it all panned out.
“You wait for someone to come in and different managers want to see different things. You just have to have what he’s looking for. I was lucky enough that the opportunity came just in time.”
Manning 20, signed under former Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp two years ago after scouts spotted the midfielder playing for his hometown club, Galway United in the League of Ireland as he helped them to promotion to the Premier Division.
Seen as a future prospect in the game, Manning failed to take the next step and Redknapp and three other managers came and went without giving the midfielder his chance. Ian Holloway gave the young player the opportunity to impress in an under 23 match and the former Blackpool manager liked what he saw.
“We played a 23s game in mid-December, he came down and took it in, I played well in that game so I think that’s where he kind of saw me.”
Manning was thrown in at the deep end when an injury crisis meant Holloway needed the midfielder for the clash with Wolves on New Year’s Eve.
“It came out of the blue.
“I was in the starting XI shape the day before but you know that is subject to change.
“It was only that morning that he told me that, two or three hours later, I’d be starting. So I didn’t have time to think about it or get nervous.
“It happened so late that none of my family had a chance to get over. I had 10 minutes between the team meeting and leaving for the ground to ring my Dad. I don’t think he believed me at first.”
Manning has been an ever-present in the first team under Holloway and as he continues to represent the Republic of Ireland under 21 team, the midfielder knows he has to continue to produce on the field if he is to make the next step up and receive his first senior international cap.
“I’ve only played 10 games and there are many players who have played 10 games in the Championship and that was it.
“I have to keep working hard, keep training hard and doing well in the team.
“But I’m learning every game. Maybe after 20 or 30 games, I will know a lot more.”
At 20, Manning is showing a surprising level of maturity that is not often seen in lads of his age. Given how close he came to not making it at QPR and what that may have meant for his career, it has acted as motivation for the young Galway man as he continues to impress.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena
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