Tuesday 22 May 2018

'They only ever approach one type of player: Catholic' - Michael O'Neill takes aim at the FAI

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has taken aim at the FAI for targeting players from a nationalist background to switch allegiances to play for the Republic of Ireland.

The Northern Ireland-born quintet of James McClean, Shane Duffy, Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and Eunan O'Kane are currently vital members of the team south of the border.

In an explosive interview with the Irish Daily Mail, the former Shamrock Rovers boss said he would speak to Martin O'Neill to try and come to some arrangement to halt the practice of young Northern Ireland players declaring for the Republic.

"The FAI only ever approach one type of player: Catholic," he said.

"I don't have a problem with James McClean. He was 22 years of age, he knew what he wanted. I have a problem when it's a 16, 17 or 18 year old having to make a decision on his international future.

"I can list you 10 players who have made that decision and have never represented the Republic.

"I hope that Martin and I can get some sort of gentleman's agreement whereby if a young boy has represented Northern Ireland at age 17 to 21, the FAI don't ask him to change."

Martin O'Neill can expect questions on the subject when he names his squad on Thursday for the friendly game with Turkey later this month.

Ireland welcome Northern Ireland to Dublin on Thursday, November 15 for the first public meeting between the countries since the Carling Nations Cup in 2011.

Reports in recent weeks have suggest that the Northern Ireland manager is trying to convince Rangers loan star Sean Goss to declare for his side.

Goss, a German-born 22-year-old midfielder who qualifies for Northern Ireland on the grandparent rule, is O’Neill’s latest recruitment target after it was revealed last month he is set to secure Huddersfield Town defender Sean Scannell, who played non-senior international football for the Republic of Ireland.

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