No recall for Stephen Ireland or Shay Given as Martin O'Neill names first Republic of Ireland squad
MARTIN O'NEILL has spoken with Shay Given and Stephen Ireland about the possibility of returning to international football but neither player will figure in the March 5 friendly with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium.
Given has gained a new lease of life from a loan move to Middlesbrough and had intimated he was interested in a comeback, while Stoke midfielder Ireland continues to give mixed messages about his intentions of ending his seven-year exile.
O'Neill, who named his squad for the game in Limerick, provided an update on his work since taking over from Giovanni Trapattoni.
"I've spoken to Shay. I think he's enjoyed it immensely at Middlesbrough, he's playing first team football but that loan is due to end soon," he said.
"I may be speaking out of turn, but I don't think he feels there will be a place at Aston Villa. He has a choice at the end of the season and hopefully he will get himself involved.
"And likewise Stephen Ireland. I've spoken to Stephen. He hasn't had very much time playing time over the last six to seven weeks at Stoke. I mentioned the fact that I've come in here, to use those cliched words about a slate being clean and that kind of stuff. It was a phonecall - I want to go and see him personally and I will do that in the foreseeable future. Stephen himself is warming to that fact. I wouldn't say any more than that. The last thing I want to do is say something here that would end up in dispute."
O'Neill has named a provisional 29-man squad for the friendly encounter that will be shortened to 23 closer to the time.
Robbie Keane misses the match after O'Neill spoke with LA Galaxy boss Bruce Arena in London in January and agreeing that it would be best if he stayed with his employers ahead of their MLS season opener on March 8.
However, Richard Dunne returns after previously suggesting he would have a discussion with the new boss to see if he was part of his plans.
Ipswich's Daryl Murphy and Nottingham Forest's Simon Cox have capitalised on Keane's absence by earning a recall to a panel that is short on surprises. Hull midfielder David Meyler and Derby defender Richard Keogh are also added to the party that figured in the opening double header of the new regime in November.
"The squad isn't wholly dissimilar to the squad that was selected by Noel [King] the last time around," admitted O'Neill. "I watched Daryl Murphy for Ipswich last Saturday and was impressed, I spoke with Mick McCarthy about him and I'll sure this will be a boost for him."
O'Neill's next act will be to head for France this weekend and the draw for the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Ireland are second seeds for Sunday's event in Nice and the manager was reluctant to specify any preferences. "There are some teams in Pot 3 and also Pot 4 that I'd prefer to avoid," he said.
Ireland Squad v Serbia [March 5]
Forde [Millwall], Randolph [Birmingham], Elliot [Newcastle]; Keogh [Derby], Wilson [Stoke], Coleman [Everton], O'Shea [Sunderland], Pearce [Reading], Kelly [Reading], Delaney [Ipswich], Dunne [QPR], Clark [Aston Villa], Ward [Brighton]; McCarthy [Everton], Whelan [Stoke], Green [Ipswich], Reid [Nottingham Forest], McGeady [Everton], Pilkington [Norwich], McClean [Wigan], Quinn [Hull], Meyler [Hull], Hoolahan [Norwich]; Long [Hull], Murphy [Ipswich], Walters [Stoke], Cox [Nottingham Forest], Doyle [QPR], Stokes [Celtic]