'I know Mick likes me' - Judge doesn't believe League One football would harm his Euro 2020 dream
PUBLISHED: 15:22 24 March 2019
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Alan Judge doesn't believe playing in League One with Ipswich Town next season would harm his chances of playing for the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2020.
Judge was an unused substitute last night as Mick McCarthy’s side beat Gibraltar 1-0 in their first qualifying game for next summer’s tournament.
The creative midfielder has been a stand-out performer since making a move to Portman Road from Brentford in January and believes he is close to being back at his best following nearly two years out injured with a broken leg.
Now the 30-year-old faces a big decision about his future ahead of a short-term contract expiring in the summer, admitting ‘a number of factors’ will come into his thinking.
But when asked if the potential of playing in League One with Ipswich next season could mean the end of the road for his international career, the playmaker was quick to reply ‘no’.
He continued: “I know Mick likes me. Somehow or other we’ve always just about evaded each other, for whatever reason, so I’ve been really looking forward to working with him finally.”
The current Ireland squad contains eight players at Premier League clubs, 12 in the Championship, two in League One (Josh Cullen at Charlton and James Collins at Luton), as well as Jack Byrne from Shamrock Rovers.
Judge’s current deal contains a 12-month extension clause, though it remains unclear as to which party that option is most in favour of.
The Dubliner has said that regular football and playing in his favoured central role will be important factors, with Blues boss Paul Lambert having made him the fulcrum of his rock-bottom side in recent weeks.
“Getting back in the Ireland squad was one of my aims when I came here, to show that I could still do it,” said Judge.
“I knew I could but obviously a little bit of doubt comes into your mind when you hear certain things.
“I think I’ve proven I can play Championship football still and to have the chance to play at international level again is a real honour.”
McCarthy was also watching Town striker Will Keane prior to the striker suffering a hamstring injury, with Judge disappointed for his team-mate.
“It’s a real shame for him,” he said. “You can see he has a good build, a good touch and is fast. I don’t think people realise how quick he actually is.
“Saying that, Kayden (Jackson) has come in and been brilliant. I’m glad to see him do well because he deserves it.”