THE large Irish contingent at Ipswich Town have had their international hopes boosted by a renewed interest from the Ireland management team -- and that could open the door to an Ireland recall for players like Daryl Murphy and Damien Delaney.
Marco Tradelli, Giovanni Trapattoni's right hand man, was in London in midweek to watch the QPR-Ipswich game and he was given food for thought by Roy Keane's selection as Ipswich had four Irish players in the starting 11 (Damien Delaney, Owen Garvan, Daryl Murphy and Jonathan Walters) with two more (Brian Murphy and Alan Quinn) on the bench.
Those players have been removed from the Ireland scene for some time: Delaney was last capped against Colombia two years ago, Daryl Murphy has not been involved with Ireland since the 1-1 draw in Norway, also in 2008, while Quinn won the last of his caps under Steve Staunton in 2007. Brian Murphy was in the squad for the World Cup play-off with France but has never been capped at senior level, while midfielder Garvan and forward Walters are also uncapped.
But Daryl Murphy's form since his move from Sunderland -- two goals in two games for Keane's side -- has revived his hopes of wearing the green shirt again, and defender Delaney is also hopeful that Tardelli's attendance at their game is a sign that the door can open up again.
"It was great to hear that Marco Tardelli was at Tuesday's game, and I understand he could be looking at us again," said Delaney. "To get a call would be wonderful and to have him at our games is a boost."
Delaney was in the first Ireland squads announced by Trapattoni and he started at left-back in the new manager's opening games against Serbia and Colombia. After that he was dropped to the bench as Kevin Kilbane resumed his left-wing role and Delaney was an unused sub for the games against Norway, Georgia (away), Montenegro (away), Cyprus (home), Poland and Georgia (home) but has not made the squad since then.
Trapattoni is eager to try out a new left-back to provide an alternative to Kilbane and that could lead to a call-up for Wolves man Stephen Ward for next month's friendly against Brazil, as Delaney has in recent weeks moved from the left back slot to a central defensive position with his club.
Brian Murphy is now pressing for a place in the Ipswich side after recovering from the injury which threatened to disrupt his dream move. The ex-Bohs keeper suffered an ankle injury during the warm-up before what could have been his first game for Ipswich last month but he has since recovered and has been on the bench for the past two Ipswich games.
Meanwhile, Burnley hope that Irish midfielder Chris McCann can prove his fitness for their Premier League relegation battle during the club's training camp in Portugal this weekend.
Dubliner McCann missed three months of the season after suffering a serious knee injury against Sunderland in September. He returned to action last month and played against Reading and Bolton but was again injured in that Bolton game and has not played since due to a knee problem. The Clarets are in Portugal this week and boss Brian Laws wants to field McCann in a friendly game today to show he's fit for their next game, away to Aston Villa in eight days' time.
"As long as there is no reaction to training Chris will be involved today," manager Laws said. "It will be good to have him back in contention."
Irish defender Paddy McCarthy is in line for a return to action with Crystal Palace after an injury nightmare.
The B international from Dublin has not played for the Eagles since October, when he suffered a shoulder injury and was forced to undergo surgery, but he's now on the way back and is almost ready to resume training.
"The specialist is really pleased with Paddy and he can step things up. He should be joining in training before the end of the month," Palace boss Neil Warnock said.
Palace have an FA Cup game against Aston Villa on Sunday, where ex- Ireland striker Alan Lee will lead the line for Palace against his former club, but McCarthy will play no part.