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O'Neill to plan for May dates

MARTIN O'NEILL may have to settle for a two-game series of matches at the end of this season as Ireland's proposed June friendly against Portugal in the USA is in doubt.

The Portuguese FA stated on their website that they would play Ireland in New Jersey on June 10th as the final warm-up game ahead of the World Cup finals in Brazil, but the FAI have not yet committed to that match.

A game at home to Turkey on Sunday May 25h has been confirmed by the association while they are almost certain to play Italy in London, at Craven Cottage, on Saturday May 31st.

There is an offer on the table to play Portugal on June 10th but the problem for the FAI is arranging a second friendly in the US before that date, and boss O'Neill is not keen to have such a long gap between the Italy match and the Portugal friendly.

"If the Portugal game is to go ahead we have to play another one as the gap is too vast, there is nothing signed," says FAI CEO John Delaney of the Portugal match.

"There were discussions but Martin and I will discuss it and we will make a decision over the next 24 hours.

"We have Turkey and Italy confirmed at the moment. The idea is to play more than the two games but it's up to the management team," added Delaney.

IRELAND BACK TO GELSENKIRCHEN

IRELAND ARE expected to revisit Gelsenkirchen in Germany for one of the key battles on the road to France 2016.

Jack Charlton's Ireland side last played in the city in their final game of the Euro 88 finals, the 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Holland, as subsequent internationals away to the Germans have been played in Hannover (1994), Stuttgart (2006) and Koln (2013).

The German FA have a habit of moving their home games around the nation, and the four home friendlies planned ahead of the World Cup finals will be played in four different cities, Joachim Loew's side taking on Chile in Stuttgart tomorrow night.

They have yet to confirm a venue for their home qualifier with Ireland on Tuesday October 14th but the German FA have suggested that Gelsenkirchen will be the host city.

Hosting the game in Gelsenkirchen is a move that will suit Irish fans as there are direct flights from Dublin to Dusseldorf, which is only 40km away.

- AIDAN FITZMAURICE


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