June friendly with Portugal in USA hinges on FAI finding second fixture
TODAY is D-day for Ireland's proposed United States summer tour, according to FAI chief executive John Delaney.
By the time Delaney sits down with Ireland manager Martin O'Neill this evening, he needs to table a second June fixture for the Stateside plan to survive.
Although friendlies against Turkey on May 25 and Italy six days later are confirmed, problems have cropped up with arranging the second half of the summer programme.
World Cup-bound Portugal are willing to face Ireland on June 10 in New Jersey, yet the absence of a game during the interim period is a deal breaker.
With Roy Keane yesterday adding weight to O'Neill's concern about too much downtime imposed on the squad in June, options are running out by the day.
"If the Portugal game is to go ahead, we have to play another one because the gap is too vast," Delaney said yesterday at the official sod-turning ceremony on the FAI's National Training Centre at Abbotstown.
"There is nothing signed (on the Portugal game). There were discussions but again Martin and I will discuss it and we'll make a decision over the next 24 hours.
"We have Turkey and Italy confirmed at the moment. The idea is to play more than the two games but it's up to the management team. If they feel that more than two games is too much after a long season, then fine.
"But if they want more time with the players and preparation for next season, we'll look at that as well."
Delaney confirmed that the meeting with the Italians on May 31 – possibly Ireland's last outing before the Euro 2016 qualifiers kick off in September – is to be played at Craven Cottage.
He said: "The promoter has asked the English FA to play in Fulham and the FA told me at last week's draw in Nice that they would approve it. We've yet to get formal approval but it's most likely at this stage."
As for the much-awaited Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland in November, the chief executive has unsurprisingly revealed that Parkhead is the preference for the FAI.
"Scotland, naturally, is the biggest qualifier in our group for the fans," he said.
"Aside from obviously most of us wanting it to be played in Celtic Park anyway, I would like us to play in there because there is a greater capacity."