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Ireland: I want Irish comeback


STEPHEN IRELAND could make his return to international football in the March friendly against Serbia after the Stoke City man confirmed that he was keen to make a comeback.

Ireland, who was last capped in 2007, says he has yet to establish contact with the new Irish management team, although Roy Keane was at Stamford Bridge to see Ireland feature for Stoke in their FA Cup defeat to Chelsea yesterday, but the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni has cleared the way for Ireland to return.

"I would like to go back and play two campaigns. It appeals to me much more now than it did under Giovanni Trapattoni," says Ireland.

"But I have had no contact whatsoever from Roy Keane or Martin O'Neill. I think they know the stage I am at – hoping to win a contract here at Stoke and are just leaving me to it.

"There is so much at stake for me and my family right now. My contract expires in the summer and I don't know what is around the corner. With Ireland, the future looks good. Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill has been a genius appointment."

Ireland made an instant impact at senior level under Steve Staunton when he made his debut in 2006 but he has been absent since that much-publicised exit in 2007, as a proposed return under Trapattoni did not materialise after an ill-tempered meeting.

"When I came into the room, Trapattoni was on the phone for ages," Ireland said. "We said a few words and then a different phone rang.

"We said a few more words and then another phone conversation took place. Me and my agent spent the whole time looking at each other, rolling our eyes and thinking this was comical. It pushed me further away."