Exile Ireland expected to be brought back under O'Neill
The elusive Stephen Ireland has said that he expected his Ireland career to resume under Martin O'Neill. With the tenth anniversary of his departure from international duty approaching, the Stoke midfielder is on the comeback trail from a broken leg.
And in a rare interview, the Cobh man told a Sunday newspaper that he thought his Irish career would restart under Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.
"I am open-minded. I have never really ruled it out. It was just when (Giovanni) Trapattoni came in, it was wrong manager, wrong time, for me," claimed the 30-year-old.
"Maybe I was the wrong player for him as well."
He thought the situation would change when the new regime took over in November 2013.
"I thought Roy Keane would have made some effort to come and speak to me because I was speaking to him prior to them actually getting the job, but he didn't," continued the midfielder.
"Martin called me one time out of the blue and we had a good conversation over the phone. I was excited. I thought 'this is it now, I am back'.
"He was due to see me within a couple of days at my house in Manchester.
"He said, 'I will call you when I am on my way'. I said 'no problem'. He never turned up.
"Then I had a missed call off him the day of the last game of the season. I was going to ring him back after the game, but then I found out he had spoken to my agent.
"He was literally ringing me to tell me he wasn't picking me for a squad. I thought that was a bit strange. And that is the last contact I had with him."
Ireland's last appearance for Stoke was at the end of the 2015-16 season.