Monday 18 December 2017

There is 'no reason' for Wes Hoolahan to walk away - Martin O'Neill

Wes Hoolahan (Sportsfile)
Wes Hoolahan (Sportsfile)
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill has urged Wes Hoolahan to abandon any thoughts of retiring from international football after Euro 2016.

The Norwich playmaker will be 34 by the time France comes around and said over the weekend that he would make a decision on his Irish future after the finals.

That surprised O'Neill who feels that the late starter at senior level - he only made his competitive debut in June 2013 - has the enthusiasm to contribute to the World Cup qualifying campaign.

"I'd be surprised," said O'Neill, "There'd be no call from me to end his international career. And, in fairness, Wes is kind of young because he hasn't exactly played an awful lot of games. He has a young face, he'd pass for 18 or 19 or 20.

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, left, watches on alongside manager Martin O'Neill
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, left, watches on alongside manager Martin O'Neill

"If it comes around to it and that's what he's feeling then, yeah, absolutely I would say to him there's no reason for him to consider that at this minute."

Hoolahan is under contract at Norwich until 2017 and is very settled in the area which means that the outcome of their relegation battle is unlikely to change his circumstances. But O'Neill can understand players in their mid thirties thinking about their next step when a cycle ends.

"I think what happens is maybe after the tournament is over, people start to consider a lot of things," he said. "It depends where he is at club level. Those things are very important. I think at this stage he'd want to be playing more often; maybe he misses out a few games at Norwich.

"There's a selfishness of course, that might be of benefit to us if he stays fresh and things like this but I think Wes would want to play all the time if he could.

"I didn't know about it (Hoolahan thinking about his future). But if he is considering it, I think he should consider it on the positive side."

O'Neill will be unable to call on the services of Rob Elliot until the World Cup campaign with Newcastle confirming that the luckless goalkeeper will spend a number of months on the sidelines after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday's game with Slovakia.

The player has declared an intention to 'come back stronger' following the devastating setback and is planning to travel to France in the summer as a supporter.

"It's a major disappointment when he was playing so well," said O'Neill.

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