Ireland omitted from Republic squad
Published 09/05/2014 | 11:22
Stephen Ireland could yet be added to the Republic of Ireland squad for their end-of-season friendlies.
The 27-year-old Stoke midfielder's name was conspicuous by its absence when manager Martin O'Neill named a provisional 32-man party for games against Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal later this month and into June.
However, O'Neill, who is yet to sit down with Ireland to discuss a possible return to the international stage, has hinted that he could yet be drafted in as he assesses his options ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, which gets under way in September.
O'Neill said: "I've no issue with Stephen Ireland, slate is clean. If he wants to play again, I'd rather hear from him but if he doesn't want to, fine."
Skipper Robbie Keane, who was excused from the 2-1 friendly defeat by Serbia in Dublin in March, returns, but the LA Galaxy striker may not feature until the United States leg of the Republic's schedule.
Ireland face Turkey at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, May 25 and then head for London to play Italy at Craven Cottage on Saturday, May 31.
World Cup finalists Costa Rica provide the opposition at the PPL Stadium in Philadelphia on Friday, June 6, and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will bring down the curtain on the Republic's international season four days later at the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey.
There are few surprises in O'Neill's squad with veteran defender Richard Dunne having ruled himself out of the games and midfielder Andy Reid having not played since March because of injury.
However, fit-again pair Joey O'Brien and Jeff Hendrick are back in the fold, as are Everton defender Shane Duffy and Derby striker Conor Sammon.
O'Neill will use the four games to hone his plans ahead of the qualifiers, which begin in Georgia on September 7, although he intends to arrange a further friendly in the run-up to that encounter.
O'Neill said: "These four games will provide us with great preparation for our first European qualifier against Georgia in September.
"I have enjoyed working with the players to date, and intend to use this extended period with them in May-June to give me the opportunity to experiment and familiarise myself with the squad further."
Squad: David Forde (Millwall), Darren Randolph (Birmingham), Rob Elliot (Newcastle); Richard Keogh (Derby), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Seamus Coleman (Everton), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce, Stephen Kelly (both Reading), Damien Delaney (Ipswich), Joey O'Brien (West Ham), Shane Duffy (Everton), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Stephen Ward (Brighton); James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Paul Green (Leeds), Aiden McGeady (Everton), Anthony Pilkington (Norwich), James McClean (Wigan), Stephen Quinn, David Meyler (both Hull), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich); Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Hull), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich), Jon Walters (Stoke), Kevin Doyle (QPR), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest), Conor Sammon (Derby).
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