Sean St Ledger showed a pride in his country that others would do well to copy when he flew to Macedonia on Thursday – days after he was ruled out of the crunch Euro qualifier.

St Ledger has defied the medics and put himself in the frame for Saturday’s big game in Skopje after months out of action with a knee injury.

He was initially sent back to his club Preston for treatment a week ago but returned to the squad on Sunday and is now in with a chance of playing in a game Ireland need to win.
James McCarthy, Marc Wilson, Anthony Stokes and Darron Gibson have all ignored Trapattoni’s call for this game amid claims that they are injured.

But St Ledger could yet make a miraculous return in place of Darren O’Dea in Skopje, just three months after injuring the knee in an Ireland training session.

“Sean St Ledger is a lot better, but I don’t know if I will take a risk with him,” said manager Giovanni Trapattoni as the Irish team prepared to fly from Dublin.

“I will decide after training on Friday. Darren O’Dea played well against Macedonia in March. This will be a very tough game. We may need to make changes after one hour maybe. That is important.”

Asked why he had come back to the squad and put himself in the frame for Macedonia, St Ledger said: “Because it’s an honor to play for your country.

“I haven’t played for 10 weeks and I love playing football, whether it’s playing in the park, or for Ireland, or watching games on TV.

“I was disappointed not to play in the Carling Nations Cup but I wasn’t ready to play until now. I see this as a chance to play in games. It’s what I do.”

As for those who stayed away this week, St Ledger said: “I suppose I am surprised, I think it’s up to each individual and how they feel.

“I am completely the opposite and I will play for as long as I can.

“I have been playing professionally for eight years and I am here now and anxious to play. I love football and there are only a few years left.

“Whenever I finish, I’m sure that I’ll look back on it with pride. As a child, every kid wants to play football, and some are fortunate to be able to do it for a living.”

Sean St Ledger