Matt Doherty has challenged the Republic of Ireland to do to their Euro 2020 qualifying group what his club Wolves did to the Premier League this season.
The top-flight newcomers made a nonsense of the step up to the big time when, to the surprise of many outside the camp, they finished in seventh place and were left kicking themselves after an FA Cup semi-final defeat by Watford.
Doherty has since joined up with his international team-mates ahead of their Group D qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar and, with six points already banked, he is confident they can make an impact.
Asked if the Republic could ruffle feathers in the same way Wolves have done, the wing-back replied: “Definitely.
“We have obviously started off with six points out of six, and that is probably why Friday night is so important.
“If we can get a result going into Gibraltar, maybe have 10 or 12 points by the end of the summer, it goes a long way towards qualification, which is the end goal.”
Doherty has been a key figure in Wolves’ impressive start to life among the big boys, but neither he nor his team-mates are prepared to rest on their laurels after securing European qualification as a reward for their efforts.
Asked if challenging for the top four was too much to ask, he replied: “Possibly, it’s kind of hard to say now.
“I guess it depends on how we start the season, especially with Europa League qualification – we might need to make the squad a bit bigger if that was the case.
“Initially, we will be just looking to improve on seventh. There were a lot of games against the lower-half teams that we lost when you would expect us to maybe win, so from this season, there’s a lot we can improve on.”
If Doherty is a mainstay for his club, he is having to remain patient at international level with skipper Seamus Coleman the man in possession at right-back.
Manager Mick McCarthy played both down the right in Gibraltar in March, although later admitted the ploy had not worked.
However, Doherty is confident they can play together if required.
He said: “Me and Seamus have spoken and spoken about it and we didn’t think we were that bad, actually. Not much came off in that game for anybody, really, it was just one of those games.
“But we believe we can play in the same team, we can work together.”
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