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FAI close in on friendlies with Italy, Portugal and Costa Rica

THE FAI will confirm details of their end-of-season schedule in the next 24 hours after the Costa Rica FA stated that they plan to play Martin O'Neill's side in a friendly in the USA next June.

So far, O'Neill's side have only one friendly fixture confirmed, the May 25th home clash with Turkey, but a game against Italy at Craven Cottage on May 31st has been agreed in principle and is just awaiting the OK from the English FA, their permission needed as the game is being played in England.

There has been confusion over other games for Ireland as the Portuguese FA stated on their official website that they were playing the Republic in New Jersey on June 10th, though the FAI had not confirmed their participation.

There was even more confusion when the World Cup-bound Costa Ricans said they were playing Northern Ireland in Foxboro on June 7th, only for the IFA in Belfast to distance themselves from that game and Costa Rica have since corrected their schedule to state that they were playing the Republic of Ireland.

Martin O'Neill had expressed his concern about having a long gap between the Italy game and the proposed Portugal match but with the Costa Rica tie now all but agreed, he can plan his summer schedule.

BOLTON OPEN TO ANDREWS STAY

BOLTON have told Ireland international Keith Andrews that he could still have a future at the club.

Andrews, 33, is on a season-long loan deal with Bolton's Championship rivals Brighton – the two sides clash today but Andrews has to miss the game under the terms of the loan – but he is due to return to Bolton for the start of next term as he still has a full season on his contract at the Reebok.

But boss Dougie Freedman has not ruled out a role for the Dubliner with Bolton.

"I have spoken to Keith and, at his age, he wanted to play football, which I respect. He wasn't one of those who wanted to sit around so we let him go out on loan and sponsored the deal," said Freedman.

"I expect him back here this summer and we will take it from there. If he shows what he is capable of showing in the summer, it is a different season and we can look at it again.

"I've had no contact with Brighton."


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