By Ryan Kelly
Wigan Athletic defender Rob Kiernan says that he is “desperate” to reignite his Republic of Ireland career under Martin O'Neill.
Now 23, Watford-born Kiernan, whose family hails from Wexford, is hopeful that he can impress enough to earn a senior call-up, with the Boys in Green set to contest international friendlies against Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Costa Rica in the coming months.
Kiernan has represented Ireland at all youth levels, most recently captaining Noel King's Under-21 team during the unsuccessful qualification campaign for last summer's European U-21 Championships in Israel.
And, having broken into the Latics first-team squad under Uwe Rosler after being recalled from a loan spell at Southend United in December, he has his sights set on stepping up into the senior team.
“I'm desperate to be involved again with Ireland,” Kiernan told Goal.
“Noel King gave me the arm band and I hope he has put his thoughts forward [to O'Neill] on my behalf. I know scouts have been at a few games and I'd like to think I would be considered in the future.”
Still relatively young, Kiernan has experienced a series of loans which have taken him the length and breadth of Britain in search of first team football. Indeed, the former Watford youth player has tried his luck at a total of eight different clubs on loan with varying degrees of success.
Since leaving Vicarage Road for Wigan in 2011, Kiernan has been out on loan four times, including a period spent at Brentford, where he first became acquainted with his current boss, and he insists that it has been “good” for him.
“The boys mock me, saying I've had more loans than Halifax,” he joked. “But, for me, it was about playing regular football. I never wanted to sit on the bench or in the stands.
“I've had loans at different leagues and all over the country but it's been good for me.”
It is no surprise that Kiernan's ascension into the reckoning in Wigan's first team coincides with his being reunited with Rosler at the DW Stadium and the defender acknowledged the manager's input into his development.
“Obviously working with Rosler at Brentford helped,” he said. “I played in the central midfield role for him and done a bit at centre back and centre midfield at Wigan. I'm happy to do either but prefer centre back.”
Following their 0-0 draw with Bolton in the Championship on Saturday, the Latics remain in the hunt for a playoff spot and Kiernan is confident that the team has the quality in their ranks to achieve a return to the Premier League.
They will also contest an FA Cup semi final against Arsenal this month, but the former Ireland U-21 captain will miss out as he is cup-tied, having already played in the competition while on loan at Southend.
“If you look at our squad, nearly all the players have played in the Premier League and got that experience,” he said. “We're aiming to get promoted. I think we will achieve it.
“The FA Cup run is a distraction but a nice one. We are the current holders and we want to keep that status. I'm just disappointed I can't be involved.”
Having enjoyed a taste of first team action, Kiernan is hungry for more. So what does the future hold for the defender?
“I want to be playing in Wigan's first team week in, week out and want to be called up to the Ireland first team,” he said.
“Without doubt those are my main aims.”