Clark flummoxed by Ireland snub
Ciaran Clark admits he is baffled by his continued omission from the Republic of Ireland squad, even though he is one of only two Premier League centre-back available to boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
The under-fire Trapattoni opted to play FC Toronto's Darren O'Dea and Leicester's Sean St Ledger in Friday night's game against Kazakhstan, insisting he has "enough players in the position Clark plays" not to require his services.
Some in Ireland have suggested Trapattoni's comments point to a theory that the veteran coach believes Clark is a full-back and not a central defender, but the dignified Villa first team regular insists he is ready to fight for his place.
"I have to be honest and say I have no idea what is happening for me with Ireland because the manager and his staff seemed very keen to get me on board at the start and now nothing seems to be happening for me," says Clark.
"There are not too many Irish centre-backs playing in the Premier League at the moment, so you would think that would stand me in good stead, but the manager is picking other people at the moment and I have no idea what I need to do to get back in.
"I have not spoken to the manager or any of his staff about what I need to do to catch their eye or anything like that, so all I can do is continue to work hard at Villa and hopefully the situation improves for me with Ireland.
"I missed out on selection for Euro 2012 and then the manager picked some new players for the friendly last month and I wasn't involved in that either, which was obviously disappointing, but I have to believe my chance will come if I continue to work hard with Villa.
"With some of the more experienced players calling time on their international careers and a few new lads getting chances, it gives me hope that I could get in the mix if we qualify for the World Cup finals in a couple of years' time. That's the ultimate dream for anyone."