The countdown is well and truly on for the massive World Cup qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in two weeks’ time.
As both Martin O’Neill and Chris Coleman finalise their squads, one Championship manager has expressed his belief that his star player could be involved in the crucial clash.
Former Galway United man Ryan Manning has blossomed under new Queens Park Rangers manager Ian Holloway after struggling to impress previous Rangers managers, having largely featured in the under 23s since moving to England in 2015, before catching the eye of Holloway late last year.
As reported in The Herald (via the Irish Independent), the ex-Blackpool manager said the midfielder deserves international recognition.
“He could easily come in and play against Wales but I’m not going to tell Martin O’Neill what to do.
“I see Ryan day in, day out. I have had some wonderful players and, in my view, Ryan is up there with them. I don’t know who else Ireland have to pick from but it’s only a matter of time before he gets into the international team, never mind the squad, he is that good. He is a special talent.
“He can play Premier League and international football, without a shadow of a doubt. I have no doubt about that, it’s just where he is going to play.
“He came here as a striker, a No. 10 with that left foot of his – which is a wand, by the way. He has athleticism, a desire to get down the pitch. I am not sure where he is going to end up playing, in central midfield as part of a three, but he could play anywhere down the left, as an attacking full-back, a bit like Seamus Coleman who was fantastic for me at Blackpool.”
Manning was only called into the QPR team against Wolves last December on New Year’s Eve, when an injury crisis gave the Galway man his big chance.
The 20-year-old has featured twelve times since and is now a central part of Holloway’s plans as he aims to stabilise the London club after a turbulent few seasons of big changes at the club.
The youngster signed a new two and a half year deal in January and scored his very first goal in English football against rivals Fulham a day later.
Holloway believes Manning has more to him than just his footballing talent that will go a long way to helping him achieve all his goals in his career.
“Ryan Manning has that wonderful sense of humanity which is rare but which every Irish person I have worked with has. And that’s a credit.
“Whatever he puts his mind to, he can do, he is a very talented boy but, deep down, what I like most about him is how ordinary he is. He has had a lot of success, after having a bit of a bad time, but he is such a joy to work with. Well done to his mum and dad. I am very privileged to have him.”
Damien McEvoy, Pundit Arena