TOWN manager Andy Ritchie is on the warpath after learning that midfielder Michael Collins could miss three more club matches through Republic of Ireland Under 21 involvement.
Collins was unavailable for Saturday’s 2-0 League I defeat at Crewe because he couldn’t get back in time after Friday’s Cork clash against Portugal.
Town were also without centre-back Richard Keogh, on loan from Bristol City for a month, because he played in the Irish youngsters’ 2-0 defeat.
The match was the first of eight European Under 21 Championship qualifiers spread over the next 12 months.
Two of the five dates set so far are direct clashes with Town matches – Friday, November 16, when the Republic go to Montenegro and Ritchie’s side visit Swansea, and Tuesday, March 25, when Montenegro visit Ireland and Town have a big derby clash with Leeds at the Galpharm.
In addition, the home meeting between Don Givens’ Under 21s and Bulgaria is on Tuesday, November 20, when Town could have an FA Cup first-round replay if one was required.
“I was frustrated at not being able to play Michael and Richard on Saturday, because I didn’t see the need go have an Under 21 match on a Friday night,” said Ritchie.
“I know there is always going to be the possibility of a clash with some club games, but surely greater attention could be paid to avoiding them.
“Lots of clubs suffer and it impacts far more on the Coca-Cola League than the Premiership, because they don’t tend to have fixtures on the big international dates.
“It’s no fault of Michael’s, and I certainly don’t want to do anything which will hinder his ability to win caps, because that’s what every player wants to do.
“But I will be seeking a conversation with someone at the FA of Ireland to put my points across to them.”