Saturday 15 December 2018

'I wouldn't be rushing him' - Martin O'Neill says Michael Obafemi wants more time to ponder international future

Michael Obafemi, left, and Sean Maguire during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Michael Obafemi, left, and Sean Maguire during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

SOUTHAMPTON striker Michael Obafemi has indicated to Martin O'Neill that he still wants more time to think about his international future even though he's in the squad for this week's double header with Northern Ireland and Denmark.

An appearance against the Danes would tie the 18-year-old down to an international career with Ireland and O'Neill suggested today that the player wants to mull over his options before committing.

Obafemi is also qualified to play for England and Nigeria, and the latter have expressed tentative interest in recruiting the 18-year-old who was born in Dublin and moved to London as a child.

The Ireland manager said today that he will not pressurise the player into lining out against the Danes while he harbours some doubt over his long term intentions. He could still figure in tomorrow's Aviva Stadium friendly with Northern Ireland.

"I haven't spoken to his parents but I've spoken to him," said O'Neill "He's enjoyed the training and has done really well. I think he's really enjoyed it but in terms of decisions, I think that's a bit off. He's got things to think about. I wouldn't be rushing him."

Matt Doherty is out of the games due to a facial injury, with O'Neill hinting that it might lead to a change of formation from the 3-5-2 that was deployed that month.

Glenn Whelan will captain the side on his 85th and final appearance for Ireland although the Aston Villa veteran said he will always be available to O'Neill in an emergency.

"To get 85 caps... If you'd given me one, I would have taken your hand off," said Whelan. "The older I've got, the more appreciative I am of coming in and playing.

"I've never pick when I don't want to play. He (O'Neill) knows that if anything happens, I will be available. I've done my coaching badges but see myself playing (at club level) for as long as I can."

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