Gibson back as King runs rule over Ireland
DARRON Gibson will return to the Ireland squad for next month's games with Germany and Kazakhstan and he could be joined by Stephen Ireland after it emerged that caretaker manager Noel King will make another trip to watch the Cobh man play tomorrow.
Everton have received notification that Gibson (right) is in King's plans for the concluding Group C ties. The player said last week that he would accept a recall if it was offered after exiling himself for the last year of Giovanni Trapattoni's tenure.
A return for Stoke new-boy Ireland would be a far greater surprise, but he will get another chance to impress King in tomorrow's Premier League showdown with Norwich. The interim boss went to see Ireland mark his first start for the Potters with a goal in their midweek League Cup win over Tranmere Rovers.
The player recently suggested that he was open to talking about ending his controversial six-year international exile, yet it would still represent a fairly dramatic turnaround if he was included for the final World Cup double-header.
This scouting trip should give King a chance to see Marc Wilson line out in midfield.
Hughes has preferred Wilson to Glenn Whelan in the holding midfield role, although King last night hinted that the versatile performer could be used at centre-half in Cologne with Richard Dunne and John O'Shea suspended.
"We have versatile people, maybe full-backs who've played centre-half, we'll jiggle around and try and find the best option," said the Dubliner.
Norwich pair Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan could also come under the spotlight although neither are guaranteed to start. Squad regular Jon Walters will feature for the hosts at the Britannia Stadium.
Before that, King will take in Hull's encounter with West Ham at KC Stadium today. Visiting left-back Joey O'Brien will view that as an opportunity to force his way into the picture.
Hull should include some of their Irish posse, with Stephen Quinn and Robbie Brady prime contenders, although a hernia operation is set to rule the latter out of the Germany and Kazakhstan matches.
In an interview posted on the FAI website, U-21 boss King (above) revealed how much he is enjoying his temporary challenge, especially the prospect of preparing a senior team to take on Germany in their own back-yard.
"My life has changed. It's been bedlam but it's been happy bedlam," he said.
"I'm enjoying it, it's football morning to night – through the night actually, dreaming of white shirts.
"It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm going to enjoy it as best I can."