Saturday 22 October 2016

O'Shea reveals doubts over Irish future

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

John O'Shea. Photo: PA
John O'Shea. Photo: PA

John O'Shea has revealed that he put his international retirement plans on hold in order to make one final bid for a World Cup appearance.

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The Waterford veteran was an unlucky bolter ahead of Japan and South Korea in 2002, although he did feature at the last two European Championship finals.

O'Shea, who endorsed the manager's decision to select Seamus Coleman to be Robbie Keane's successor as captain of the squad, also admitted that he wouldn't have returned if manager Martin O'Neill had expressed any reluctance.

"We'd said we'd leave things for a few weeks after the Euros and then speak about it. I was always comfortable with the manager saying whatever he was going to say.

"He said he'd love me to carry on so it was quite straightforward for me. I always stated that would always be available until not picked.

"But there were obviously a few more doubts in my head this time around. However, the group that we had and still have means the atmosphere is as good as ever.

"And, though it's a long, long way ahead, there's a chance to get to the World Cup. Believe me, though, I'm taking it game by game."

O'Shea will be 37 when Russia stage the World Cup and he is out of contract at Sunderland next summer.

"It's nice to be wanted, without a doubt. You know, if the manager said, stay on your holidays type of thing! But it's happened like it has and we move forward to the next couple of games."

O'Shea admitted the captaincy was never an issue clouding his commitment. Seamus is "the logical choice, given his age. It's a long-term strategy."

Coleman's captaincy was, naturally, roundly applauded by his colleagues in the aftermath of the Belgrade draw; the endorsement of Robbie Brady as the side's new number ten carried more onerous conditions, however.

"I got a text from Robbie Keane," smiles Robbie Brady. "He just said, 'No pressure. All you have to do is score 67 goals...'"

Irish Independent

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