Former Don Andrews Receives His Rightful Recognition
Giovanni Trapattoni may have surprised many with his squad selection for the Republic of Ireland's friendly against Poland later this month, but don't expect this writer's jaw to drop at the inclusions and exclusions.
The main shock must be the inclusion of Blackburn's Keith Andrews at the expense of Sunderland playmaker Andy Reid. Whilst Reid had missed the recent game against Cyprus, general consensus had been that the Mackem's man would regain his place against more serious opposition.
It's not to be, but boy what a replacement. I'm a huge fan of Keith Andrews, having followed Milton Keynes Dons since Wimbledon first controversially moved to Milton Keynes (which is a topic for another time altogether).
I think it's great to see a midfielder like Andrews rebuild his career at a lower-league club and gain recognition for the graft. The Irishman spent six years at Wolves as a youngster, and by the end of his spell there was a first-team regular, and wore the captain's armband for one game, becoming the youngest captain at Molineux for a hundred years.
He moved on to Hull City for a season, but an injury plagued spell saw him sold on to Martin Allen's MK Dons for the 2006-07 season. In the two years he spent in Milton Keynes, he was club captain and shades above his teammates the whole time.
The go-to man in midfield that created and scored goals aplenty, Andrews went from good under Allen to great under Paul Ince, when the England legend took the reigns at the Dons. A great season for Keith saw him win the League Two Trophy, the Football League Trophy, and the League Two Player of the Season award.
It was no surprise that when Ince went to Blackburn, Andrews followed. The born-again Irishman has been a permanent fixture so far this season, and his stunner against West Brom netted Rovers a tidy point.
He's hit solid form in the Premiership for the first time, and surely that means he can do a job for Ireland. The Irish aren't blessed with midfielders at the moment, so maybe Andrews' tendency to find that beautiful pass from nowhere could be the element they need.
Either way, it's a great advert for all the lower league footballers out there. Just look what can be achieved.
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