David Meyler's comments after Wales really sum up how important he is for Ireland 5 years ago

David Meyler's comments after Wales really sum up how important he is for Ireland

It's probably safe to say that David Meyler is the most underrated player in the Ireland squad.

We're talking here about a guy who came on at left back against the world champions during that famous win over Germany.

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We're talking about a man who has seen Glenn Whelan picked ahead of him time and time again.

A trooper who has paid a fortune of dues, traveled to France and watched 18 outfielders get a chance at the Euros ahead of him. Him or Cyrus Christie never got one opportunity.

He came back and carried on doing what he does anyway: he kept his head down and worked hard. He wasn't selected out in Austria either but, very early in the first half, he was called upon.

That performance sparked his captain Seamus Coleman to rave about him.

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"I say it all the time, when I come out with this group of lads, it's a privilege," Coleman said in November.

"David Meyler: He's been waiting for a chance and he was different class."

He waited. He waited. Then he stepped up.

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But even after that stunning performance - the last time the Irish squad were together - Meyler found himself back down the pecking order on Friday night for the visit of Wales.

Despite Brady and Hoolahan and Arter being missing, despite O'Neill opting for two holding midfielders, he went with Whelan and McCarthy instead and threw the Cork man back onto the bench.

Just before kickoff though, McCarthy pulled up and, once again, Meyler was called upon at the last minute. Once again, Meyler answered in our hour of need.

"I knew James [McCarthy] had a knock. We're all professionals so we have to be prepared if we're going to play," he said after the game.

"Regardless if we're in the starting 11, we have to warm-up the exact same way.

"The warm-up had just finished and unfortunately for James he wasn't fit enough to play and the manager just said, 'you're starting'.

"You've got to be prepared. You've got to be ready. We want to go to Russia, we want to qualify for the World Cup - especially after the Euros. That's our aim and I want to be a part of that and so does everybody else. That's why you've got to be ready when you're called upon."

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Meyler went on to produce another solid performance that would have you disbelieving how Glenn Whelan was ever going to be selected ahead of him. Across the ground, he was sharper. Mentally, he was tuned in to the max and when he got the ball he was looking to drive forward.

The one time he made a mistake, he atoned for it himself.

And yet, with 10 minutes to go, when the management understandably wanted Aiden McGeady onto the pitch, it was Meyler who was sacrificed. Not Whelan.

He just gets on with it though. He might have to go back to waiting for his chance again, however unjust that is. But at least the rest of us can rest easy in the knowledge that, when he is needed again - which he will be - to pull us out of another hole, he'll be ready.