Ireland waits for FAI to call in bid to end national exile

Paul Hyland

STEPHEN IRELAND'S children want him to end his self-imposed exile from Giovanni Trapattoni's team, but the eccentric Aston Villa midfielder won't make a move until he is contacted by the FAI.

"Until the question comes from the FAI, or some kind of contact comes from them, I can't really think about it," claimed Ireland, who seems blissfully unaware that the FAI and Trapattoni expect communication to flow in the other direction.

Ireland believes he is no longer the man who walked away from his country while Steve Staunton was in charge and refused to return when asked to by Trapattoni.

"Obviously I've matured as a person since then," he added. "Things are much more settled and I'm at a club where I am playing. Now the kids are putting me under pressure to play for Ireland.

"My seven-year-old is playing football and he's really good. He would like to see me playing for Ireland.

"Obviously, it all could have been dealt with in a better way at the time. But even if it had been, I'd still have needed that big gap at some stage anyway.

"I just think it was a very difficult time. (My partner) Jessica was heavily pregnant as well as having two children to look after. She wants me to go back and wants what's best for my career.

"But I really don't know the answer. It came across as if it was a burden to me to play for my country -- but that's not the case."