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'It's The Million Dollar Question! I Don't Really Know Myself'

'It's The Million Dollar Question! I Don't Really Know Myself'
By PJ Browne

"It's the million dollar question! I don't really know myself," says Ryan Manning about his best position.

The Galway man started at left wing-back for Ireland against Lithuania on Tuesday, before switching to centre-back later in the game. He has also flitted between the two berths for Swansea this season.

"The way football is now, you have to be adaptable to a lot of positions," the 25-year-old says.

"[Against Lithuania], I was able to play left wing-back, and when Jimmy [McClean] came on, I was able to jump in a centre-back.

"It probably helps that the style at my club is similar to the style that's here. We play out from the back. For me, it's just about being as adaptable as I can to play in as many positions as I can. It gives me more opportunities to play than if I was restricted to one position.

"When I was with the [Ireland] U21s, I was playing number 10. Football has probably changed a little bit. Left wing-back is a lot more of an attacking position than it was years ago. For me, it was just about adapting to get into teams, and carve out a career. That's where I've ended up. I enjoy playing there, getting chances to get assists, and shots on goal."

Manning won his sixth senior Ireland cap against Lithuania. Though it was his first start since his debut in late 2020. Stephen Kenny had told him "Your opportunity will come".

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"I'm playing every week with my club," says Manning.

"When I last started, I'd come off the back off just moving club, I hadn't played because of a contract situation. It came at the wrong time for me. This time, I'm virtually playing every week.

"I've been around [the Ireland team] for the last year. It's come on leaps and bounds. The performances have improved massively. The style of football has really taken shape, and everyone has bought into it.

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"We're getting to that stage now... The Belgium game, we didn't just sit in, absorb pressure and hope to counter-attack. There was part of that game where Belgium were on the ropes. They just sat back into their bank against us."

26 March 2022; Republic of Ireland coach John Eustace during the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Belgium at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A week prior to the friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania, it was announced that John Eustance would be replacing Anthony Barry in Stephen Kenny's backroom team. For Manning, he was a familiar face.

"When I was at QPR, I really enjoyed working under him. He's a fantastic coach. He does all the set pieces. The sessions that he puts on are relative to the games we're going to play.

"The sessions we did before the Belgium game were changed to adapt to the Lithuania game.

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"He's settled in really well. Everyone has really enjoyed working with him. I'm glad to be working with him again. I was happy when I saw him come in the door last week."

See Also: Brian Kerr Explains How Former Ireland International Chris Hughton Unexpectedly Got Ghana Role

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