Thursday 19 October 2017

Stephen Ireland reveals breakdown in communication with Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane over Ireland return

Stephen Ireland of Stoke City of Stoke City during the warm up prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium on March 2, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Stephen Ireland of Stoke City of Stoke City during the warm up prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium on March 2, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Republic of Ireland winger Stephen Ireland has said that he would consider a return to international football but that he was previously overlooked by manager Martin O'Neill after the Ireland boss had made contact with him about a return to the national fold.

Ireland, who is just a couple of weeks away from returning from a horrific leg break he suffered during Stoke training last year, walked away from the international team almost a decade ago after a string of lies about the deaths of both his maternal and paternal grandmothers.

The Corkonian has not played for the international team since Ireland's 2-2 draw with Slovakia in September 2007, however, he did reveal that he has made himself available since O'Neill took charge in November 2013, and that he would be open to a return to international football if called upon.

"If I was flying and in great form going into January and Christmas and they wanted me to come back and play, I am open minded," Ireland told Paul Rowan in The Sunday Times.

"I have never really ruled it out. It was just when [Giovanni] Trapattoni came in, it was wrong manager, wrong time, for me. Maybe I was the wrong player for him as well."

Ireland said that he thought he could be in line for a return to the national team when O'Neill took over, after the former Aston Villa manager had previously made an attempt to bring him to the midlands while he was at Manchester City, but that ultimately, communication broke down with O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane.

"I thought Roy Keane would have made some effort to come and speak to me because I was speaking to him prior to them actually getting the job, but he didn't.

"Martin called me one time out of the blue and we had a good conversation over the phone. I was excited, I thought 'this is it now, I am back'.

"He was due to see me within a couple of days at my house in Manchester. He said 'I will call you when I am on my way'.

"I said 'no problem'. He never turned up. Then I had a missed call off him the day of the last game of the season. I was going to ring him back after the game but then I found out he had spoken to my agent. He was literally ringing me to tell me he wasn't picking me for the squad.

"I thought that was a bit strange. About three days later there was a report comparing me to Mariah Carey because I was a diva for not actually answering his call. And that is the last contact I had with him."

Ireland extended his contract with Stoke last month when he signed a new six-month contract with the Potters.

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