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Sunday 24 September 2017

Noel King insists Ireland exiles given 'clean slate' ahead of qualifiers

Noel King says he has no reason to block anyone out of the squad
Noel King says he has no reason to block anyone out of the squad

Soccer Daniel McDonnell

Ireland caretaker manager Noel King has opened the door to an international recall for exiles Darron Gibson, Stephen Ireland and Anthony Stokes ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers with Germany and Kazakhstan.

King, who was installed in the interim post on Monday night while the FAI assess their options, is spending this week in England before confirming his selection and watched Gibson's first appearance of the season for Everton in their League Cup tie with Fulham last night.

This evening, he will be in Liverpool where Ireland could figure in Stoke's showdown with Tranmere along with Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters.

Both Gibson and Stokes made clear their desire to return to the international game after the departure of Trapattoni and it's anticipated they will make the enlarged squad for the October ties.

Farcical

Ireland, who has been out of the fold since his farcical exit in 2007, played a cagier game when asked about his Irish future and it would be an extremely bold move by King to bring back the divisive character at such short notice.

However, when asked about the trio, the Dubliner said he would be arriving with a fresh approach.

"I'd have no reason to block anybody out of the squad," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm starting from a clean slate. It's my view of what should constitute the 30-odd players that we'll put on standby and then the 23 that we'll call up and from there what the starting 11 should be.

"Through injury and unavailability, we may well lose some players but nobody will be excluded by me, and why would I exclude anybody?"

Andy Reid, who has starred with Nottingham Forest this season, could also come into consideration. King's primary headache will be in defence, however, with John O'Shea and Richard Dunne suspended for the daunting trip to Cologne.

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