'I'm not Roy Keane's father, he can say what he wants'
MARTIN O'NEILL wants Roy Keane to be his own man and has no intention of telling Ireland's assistant boss what to say this afternoon in his first press conference since accepting the role.
However, the new Ireland manager is contemplating the introduction of social media guidelines that will gag his players around international gatherings – especially on match days.
Another media circus will descend on Malahide today as Keane faces the cameras for the first time since his surprise return to Irish football, but O'Neill swatted away the suggestion that he would try and impose any rules on his No 2. Instead, he will allow the Corkman to make his own choices on how to handle the attention.
"I am going to try and clear something up here," said O'Neill yesterday after the regime's first training session. "I am not Roy Keane's father, absolutely not. He can look after himself and he can say what he wants.
"Seriously, he is under no gagging at all, and I am quite sure that I would not even have to have that conversation with him. I am not going to sit there saying 'Don't say this, don't say that'."
O'Neill will have that discussion with his players in relation to Twitter, though, after his experiences with James McClean – who caused problems for both Sunderland and Ireland with his web conduct – and learning that Shane Long used his page to hint at anger towards Noel King after the interim boss left him out of his two games in charge.
"I used to think it was a bit of fun (Twitter)," said O'Neill. "But it's become serious, it really has, so yeah we have a line on this and Peter (Sherrard – FAI communications director) has given me some advice on this.
"I know from James' Twitter way back at Sunderland, I was saying, 'Hold on, stay out of it, just at the moment'."
"I told James, 'Not everybody in the North-East knows who the Wolfe Tones are'. And I think Shane Long tweeted something. It was the first thing I said to him: 'I hope you're not going to be tweeting near me', but Peter has got some sort of philosophy and guidelines on it," said O'Neill.
The FAI added that O'Neill will use these two matches to review the situation and decide on a strategy, a theme that extends to a variety of issues. He will also examine personnel issues, indicating that he would favour a return for Stephen Ireland. "If Roy can come back, it's open for anyone," said the 61-year-old.
Anthony Pilkington is out of Friday's friendly with Latvia and Tuesday's meeting with Poland due to injury but he will fly in to meet the new management team, as will Hull's Robbie Brady.
John O'Shea and Jon Walters will take a more active role in today's training after sitting out the majority of yesterday.
IRELAND PLAYERS' TWEETS
"On flight for the maras game. Only one thing for it –headphones in, Wolfe Tones on! What's everyone's fave song? Broad Black Brimmer edges mine." – While a Sunderland player in February.
"Delighted as a fan we got the win. Personal level. #fuming #f**kinjoke #embarrassing" – After failing to play during Ireland's win in Kazakhstan September 2012.
"Long, long 10 days."
– After missing out against Germany and Kazakhstan under Noel King last month.
"Cowboy!! Nuff said....????" – Before last month's Kazakhstan clash.