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'Trapattoni will never look towards our league,' says Derry City midfielder Patrick McEleney

'Trapattoni will never look towards our league,' says Derry City midfielder Patrick McEleney

David Maher

The winger believes that the Republic of Ireland boss will never look to the League of Ireland for senior international players but praised Michael O'Neill and Noel King

Derry City midfielder Patrick McEleney has expressed doubts over Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni's interest in Ireland's domestic league.

Despite the recognition of Airtricity Premier Division players such as Derry's Barry McNamee and Cork City winger Daryl Horgan at under-age level, the Italian tactician has not fielded one player from the League of Ireland since taking over in 2008.

Brian Murphy was called up in November 2009 before his move from Bohemians to Ipswich but did not play and McEleney believes that players need to be plying their trade in Britain in order to catch the eye of the former Juventus boss.

"I think Trapattoni will never look towards our league for senior international players," McEleney told Goal. "You would have to be playing across the water [in Britain] for him to acknowledge you. As for promoting, I'm not sure he would do it."

McEleney is currently awaiting Fifa clearance in order to complete his switch from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, but the process has been delayed as the player waits for a British passport.

The 20-year-old, who has been capped at under-17 and under-19 level for the Republic of Ireland made the decision to switch after consulting Ireland under-21 boss Noel King and Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

"It was just to play international football as quick as I could," he said of his decision to switch international allegiance. "But now the whole passport situation is stopping me which is a nightmare.

"I had a few chats with Noel King and he was fair with me and said he didn't want me to leave," he added. 

"But after chatting with Michael O'Neill and Steven Robinson, I like their plans. The passport thing is just annoying because I want to play."

McEleney praised the former Shamrock Rovers boss for his knowledge of the Airtricity Premier Division and also saluted former Derry City and Finn Harps manager Noel King, who has called up several domestic-based players, for his attention to the league.

"Michael O'Neill still knows a lot about our league as he managed in it. Noel King also, he's been at a lot of games, so they do their work on the league," he said.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front, McEleney believes that Derry City still have "a lot to play for" ahead of their Airtricity Premier Division clash with St Patrick's Athletic on Tuesday.

Despite seeing their chances of European football diminished after suffering a heavy 4-1 defeat against Cork City at Turners Cross on Friday, Derry City remain just four points behind third-placed Sligo Rovers and are still in the FAI Cup.

McEleney admitted that a fourth place finish would be "disappointing" but with eight games to go, he stressed that there was "a lot to play for."

"After such a good start to the season it would be disappointing but we still have a lot to play for," McEleney said. "Plus we have the FAI Cup quarter final. It's down to us to achieve European football"

After a positive start to the season, Derry's form has been faltering recently. The Candystripes have lost three of their last five league games and they have won just once at home in their last seven games.

They will host St Pat's at the Brandywell this evening, just four days after losing to Cork, before welcoming Shelbourne four days later on Saturday September 7. And McEleney says that the congested fixture list allows the players a chance to recover their form.

"After such a bad run you want to overturn your problems quickly, so a game soon is better for me because you want to put it right," he said.

"St Pat's are a quality team, they've been really good all year but we believe we can beat anyone on our day and most teams know that we're capable of that."

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