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Italian job for Ireland ahead of Euro qualifiers

IRELAND will play Italy in a friendly next summer, most likely away from home or in a neutral venue, as part of Martin O'Neill's preparation for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

O'Neill has been in discussions with the FAI over his plans for the summer and while the plan is to wait until the draw for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign is made at the end of February, he is keen to have games lined up.

There will be one home friendly in May as well as a possible tour of the USA, but the Italians are keen to play Ireland as part of their build-up to the World Cup finals. Italy may seek to play Ireland in a neutral venue, as happened when an Irish side beat Italy 2-0 in the Belgian city of Liege under Giovanni Trapattoni.

Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy has been knocked back in a bid to sign out-of-favour striker Kevin Doyle on loan from Wolves.

Doyle has been frozen out under Kenny Jackett this season and, while he did play in a midweek league win over Oldham, he has started just one of their last seven games.

Middlesbrough have been linked with a move for Doyle, but Wolves were looking for a fee for Doyle in a permanent deal and, while 'Boro could revisit their interest before the transfer deadline closes tomorrow, a move there is unlikely.

Ipswich boss McCarthy also made an inquiry this week about a loan deal for Doyle, but that has also been rejected and he now faces an uncertain few months.