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‘He deserves it’ | Jaap on Kelly call-up

15 March 2017

Royals boss on Liam Kelly's call-up to Republic of Ireland squad

Royals boss Jaap Stam was very complementary of midfielder Liam Kelly who has been called up to the Republic of Ireland provisional 39-man squad for the first time ahead of next week’s international break.

Kelly has impressed for Reading so far this season having broken into the side under the stewardship of Stam, and the Dutchman says the academy graduate is fully deserving of the call from Ireland boss Martin O’Neill.

“It think it is a great moment for Liam Kelly and I think he deserves it because he is a very good player,” said Stam. “In what he has shown this season with us he has been very impressive with the quality that he has.

“He’s been working very hard and he’s earned that call up from the national team. I think it is a very big compliment to him that he achieved that. It’s what you want all the youngsters to aspire towards, to work hard for the club and for the team but also to work very hard and put everything in to get results for yourself.

The gaffer still remembers when he got his first call-up to the Dutch team back in his early playing days, with Guus Hiddink the man in charge in for the Netherlands at the time.

It was an experience Stam valued and is keen that Kelly tries to make the most of the opportunity by continuing what he has been doing so well for the Royals during the 2016-17 season.

“I remember when Hiddink called up and my wife answered the phone I thought she was having a joke to be honest,” admitted the manager. 

“Your first call-up is always a strange moment because you want to be up there and be one of the best in your country. When you get the moment to be part of that team it is a very satisfying feeling.”

“A lot of players go to the national team and think ‘maybe I need to do something differently because I’m here with all the big and international players.’ That isn’t the case, you are there because of how you’ve played and how you are as a person and as a player.

“People always talk about Liam’s size and whether that is going to be a problem,” Jaap continued. “If you look at him and you look at some of the really top players in the world they are a similar size to him. He uses his quality on the ball and his physique against big players.

“I think if he is himself and plays the way he has been playing with his club I’m sure he will be staying with that team. If you look at Liam Kelly as a player with the qualities that he has I think everybody can use them."

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