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Sunderland defender relishing first major finals and does not envy the predicament in the England camp

John O'Shea is hopeful that Ireland can make it out of their Euro 2012 Group C and take their place alongside England in the quarter-finals.

The Sunderland defender has never featured at a major international tournament for Ireland and is determined to enjoy the occasion in Poland and Ukraine.

Should Ireland negotiate their way past Croatia, Spain and Italy then a second-round match with near neighbours England could be on the cards and the prospect of a clash of the old enemies is something to relish, reckons O'Shea.

Speaking at the Ford Republic of Football campaign in Dublin, he said: “It would be unbelievable, wouldn’t it? Everyone was hoping we were going to face them in the group stages. I think if we did face them this time it would be just an amazing game to be a part of.”

Managerless England's preparations for their Euro 2012 campaign were thrown into disarray with the standing down of coach Fabio Capello and O'Shea is relieved at the settled look in the Ireland camp compared to their English counterparts.

He said: “Can you imagine what we’d be like in that situation? It would be such a surreal feeling for the first European Championships in 24 years to be going in like that.

“But, who knows, it could work out for them, because normally they have themselves lifting the trophy before they’ve arrived at the tournament, so it might work in their favour this time.”

Despite having 75 international caps tucked under his belt, O'Shea has yet to play on the big stage for the Boys in Green. The former Manchester United defender's international career has coincided with a lull in the fortunes of the Irish team. It has been a decade since Giovanni Trapattoni's team took their place at a major finals.

“Maybe if I had broken into the United team six or seven months earlier than I did, I would have gone to the [2002] Japan/Korea World Cup,” he said.

“To think 10 years later I’m finally getting the chance to be a part of a major tournament, it just shows you when the chance comes you have do to everything you can to get there and, when you do, to enjoy it.”

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