Exclusive Alan Browne column

In action against Brentford last month ' my first league start since December
In action against Brentford last month ' my first league start since December
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It has felt good to have been starting games over the last couple of weeks and hopefully I have taken that chance so far.

Paul Gallagher’s injury has partly given me my chance, although I will say straight away that it will be nice to see Gally fit as soon as possible.

Last season, I had a long spell out of the team, going from the end of January until May without a game.

It is quite tough, training all week then not having a game on the Saturday.

If you work hard though, your chance usually comes along.

Last season, I got back in the squad for the play-off semi-final second leg against Chesterfield and came on in the second half.

Then I got my chance at Wembley, coming on as a sub in the first half and playing my part in that fantastic day.

My first league start of this season came at Brentford a couple of weeks ago.

Then I stayed in for the cup tie against Bournemouth and the Wolves game last Saturday.

Both of those were eventful matches to say the least.

We took Bournemouth to penalties and unfortunately, I was one of the players to see my spot-kick saved.

I will not use tiredness as an excuse for my penalty. I have watched it back and it was not a great attempt.

It was not about fatigue, it was just a bad penalty and is something I will look to do better next time if such a chance comes around.

After 120 minutes and the shoot-out, we then faced Wolves.

We played most of the game with 10 men and then the last few minutes with nine – that was tough going.

It was a new experience for me because I cannot remember playing a game with nine men.

Although we conceded the late equaliser, I do think we came out of the game with a lot of credit.

We set up well and managed to restrict Wolves to not many chances, even though they had the extra man for a long time and then two extra men.

At no point did Wolves carve us open, our shape and work-rate was excellent.

Their equaliser came out of nothing really, a quality finish from well outside the box.

That was probably the only way they were going to score past us.

For long spells of the game, we made them play into our hands, forcing them out wide.

That meant they put a lot of crosses into our box which our defenders dealt with superbly in the air, heading everything away.

Tom Clarke and Bailey Wright won most things in the air that afternoon – Bailey’s red card later was really unfortunate.

We now move on to play Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough this weekend. Having no game in midweek will hopefully be of benefit to us.

With the Bournemouth game going to extra-time and then playing with nine men last week, a bit of extra recovery time was welcome. We have had a good few days on the training ground.

Wednesday will be tough opponents, as everyone is in this division. I think the last two games have been a step in the right direction as far as our displays are concerned.

We just have to keep digging deep, working hard and I’m sure our rewards will come.

After Saturday’s game, we go into the international break and I will be joining up with the Republic of Ireland Under-21s.

We play Lithuania at home next Friday and then Italy away the following Tuesday.

I always look forward to the international games, it is a chance to get more minutes under my belt and allow me to carry on learning about the game.

Last month when I played for the Under-21s, I scored with an overhead kick in a friendly against Qatar at Bury!

I had broken into the box to get on the end of a cross but got a yard too far forward.

So I just decided to improvise and try the over head kick with the ball being behind me – I went for it and in it went. I was a bit surprised to see it go in but it was nice all the same.