Ireland's Greene gets Luton blues

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The Independent Online

David Greene, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 captain, is convinced that further international progress almost certainly depends on him leaving First Division Luton Town.

The tall, slim centre-back, who travelled 75 miles from the 1-0 defeat against Austria in Amstetten on Tuesday to go on stand-by for last night's senior game in Vienna, said: "It would be terrific to get a taste of senior international football because playing for your country is every player's aim. But it looks like I've got to leave Luton to find regular first-team football and show what I can do."

David Pleat's move from Kenilworth Road to take over at Sheffield Wednesday has brought Greene into immediate conflict with the new Luton manager, Terry Westley. Greene added: "I had the distinct feeling David Pleat was grooming me for the first team and he put me in the side several times over the last couple of seasons. I hoped to make the breakthrough this year but I am definitely out in the cold with the new manager, particularly with the system he is playing.

"He even told me he was looking abroad for a new centre-half and although I haven't asked for a move, he says I can go if they get an offer of around pounds 500,000. To me that is ridiculous, because apart from the top clubs, nobody has got that sort of money to gamble on a young player. But I will just have to hope somebody thinks that I am worth the risk - or somehow persuade Luton to bring down the price."

Greene's frustration was compounded by a brilliant save from the Austrian goalkeeper Mario Krassnitzer, just when he thought he had scored a late equaliser with a typical far-post run and thumping header.

It could now be near the end of the Under-21 road for 12-times capped Greene and several of the team beaten last night. With the fourth-placed Republic's remaining two European Under-21 Championship games, against Latvia and Portugal, meaningless in terms of qualification, manager Maurice Setters is considering promoting a batch of players from the youth squad.

Austria's winner came in just nine minutes when the tiny winger Jurgen Kauz was allowed to head in a corner from Mario Haas. Greene, for once, was away from sentry duty, but the Republic later took a firm grip on proceedings, especially after Austrian sweeper Gunter Schiesswald was sent off 26 minutes from time after illegally depriving Tottenham's Andy Turner of a clear scoring opportunity.

Setters picked out the Millwall midfielder David Savage as the star performer for his team and certainly he, along with Greene and the Coventry midfielder Willie Boland, looked the best bet to follow Liverpool's Mark Kennedy, who made his full debut last night, into the senior squad.