Irish eyes smiling at Portman Road

IPSWICH Town's trio of Irish hopefuls had their international careers boosted today with news that Charlie Woods has been appointed to the staff of the Republic of Ireland FA.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH Town's trio of Irish hopefuls had their international careers boosted today with news that Charlie Woods has been appointed to the staff of the Republic of Ireland FA.

His long association with Sir Bobby Robson continues with the announcement that he is to become a scout looking at opponents and keeping an eye of English-based Irish players.

Woods was in Dublin this week and watched Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Sweden, sitting alongside Robson who is a crucial member of the Irish management team headed by Steve Staunton.

Woods lives in Ipswich - in close proximity to the Blues training ground - and will be able to keep a close watch on the form of striker Alan Lee and the progress of youngsters Owen Garvan and Shane Supple.

“Yes, I will keep an eye on the Irish players at Ipswich and report back on how they are doing,” said Woods, 64.

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“I will be looking at Premiership and Championship matches and also going abroad to run my eye over international sides that Ireland has to play.

“It is nice to be back in football, and in a role that I have done before.”

Woods scouted for England when Robson was manager, and went to the 1990 World Cup in Italy with the ex-Ipswich boss and his team.

He was a player at Portman Road when Robson first became Ipswich manager in 1969, and when he returned to the Blues as a coach he became youth team manager under Robson.

Woods also worked in various capacities under Bobby Ferguson, John Duncan and John Lyall at Ipswich, and was with Tottenham before moving to Newcastle as chief scout when Robson took over at St James' Park.

Lee's four goals in six games since his move to Ipswich has awakened interest in the 26-year-old among the Irish management and he could well add to his eight caps next season.

And 18-year-old's Garvan and Supple both impressed Robson when he watched last Saturday's win over Leicester City at Portman Road, and are set to feature in the Under-21 set-up, if not the senior squad, before too long.

Irish-born striker Billy Clarke is another bright Town Academy prospect and at 18 is set to feature highly in Woods' schedule.

Ireland's next senior match is a home friendly against Holland on August 16, and they face the Czech Republic, Germany, Wales, Cyprus, Slovakia and San Marino in qualifiers for the European Championship in 2008.

This kicks-off when Ireland play Germany in Stuttgart on September 2.

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