Sunday 4 December 2016

John O'Shea will not follow Shay Given into international retirement

John Fallon

Published 30/07/2016 | 02:30

Uncertainty surrounded the Sunderland centre-back’s continuance in the squad after he was dropped for the final pair of games at last month’s Euros. Picture credit: David Maher / Sportsfile
Uncertainty surrounded the Sunderland centre-back’s continuance in the squad after he was dropped for the final pair of games at last month’s Euros. Picture credit: David Maher / Sportsfile

John O'Shea could be restored to Ireland's central defence for the World Cup qualification opener in Serbia on September 5 after manager Martin O'Neill helped persuade the 35-year-old to delay his retirement from international football.

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Uncertainty surrounded the Sunderland centre-back's continuance in the squad after he was dropped for the final pair of games at last month's Euros but the Waterford man has indicated his intention to stick around for the tilt at reaching the Russia showpiece in 2018.

The need for defensive reinforcements during the 13-month campaign is underlined by the unavailability of Shane Duffy for the daunting visit to Belgrade.

O'Neill wasn't aware until yesterday that the one-match suspension incurred for the red card against France five weeks ago must be served in the next competitive outing.

O'Shea, who has 114 caps, will battle with Richard Keogh and Ciaran Clark for the two berths in the heart of Ireland's defence.

Disappointment

"John has got another year left on his contract at Sunderland and I think he would like to run the two together if he felt he was wanted," explained O'Neill yesterday during his trip to Clonmel to make the draw for the FAI Cup third round.

"He took being left out at the Euros pretty well and obviously hid the disappointment. Maybe he thought he could get back into the side for the game against France and that was disappointing for him.

"I don't retire players; I think the players feel that themselves. I wanted to speak to John and that was a few weeks ago when he was on holiday. It's what I want him to do, be around the place, and that was decent news for him to hear."

Unlike O'Shea, Robbie Keane won't be staying on for the competitive fixtures, though could still make a final appearance in the green jersey on August 31 when Oman provide the opposition in a friendly.

O'Neill confirmed that Keane would clarify publicly his future soon but it's understood the low-key warm-up game will take on a greater significance due to it constituting the swansong of one of Ireland's greatest servants.

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