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'Liam Kelly had a stormer' - Neville impressed by Ireland prospect but Mick McCarthy yet to contact playmaker



Andreas Pereira (C) battles with Reading's Yakou Meite (L) and Liam Kelly (R)

Andreas Pereira (C) battles with Reading's Yakou Meite (L) and Liam Kelly (R)

AFP/Getty Images

Andreas Pereira (C) battles with Reading's Yakou Meite (L) and Liam Kelly (R)

Phil Neville led the chorus of acclaim for Reading playmaker Liam Kelly, as the former Republic of Ireland under-21 star impressed in his side's FA Cup third round defeat against Manchester United.

Kelly caught the eye with some classy contributions to an encouraging performance from a Reading side that pushed a second string United side and succumbed to first half goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku in a 2-0 defeat.

Yet Kelly's twinkle-toed contributions caught the eye of former United midfielder Neville, who told the BBC that the 23-year-old was a stand-out performer on the Old Trafford stage.

"Liam Kelly had a stormer in the Reading midfield," stated Neville. "Man Utd tried to move Fred further up to put pressure on him, but Kelly and his midfield partner Andy Rinomhota pulled the strings for Reading.

"I can't believe Reading are so low in the Championship given they way they played. There have some really good players in this team, with Kelly and Rinomhota especially impressive. They've played with real confidence and flair - they've just lacked a bit of composure in the final third.

"They don't look like a team who haven't won in 10 games - they're playing with real confidence and real arrogance."

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Kelly's sparkling display will reignite calls for new Ireland boss Mick McCarthy to bring the midfielder back into the international fold, after now departed Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was told by Reading chiefs last March that the youngster had decided to turn his back on an Ireland call-up as he had set his sights on breaking into the England international set-up.

Independent.ie were then informed that Kelly remained open to an Ireland call-up after O'Neill made those comments and he later confirmed he would welcome a chance to continue an international career that included appearances in a host of Irish underage teams.

"It had nothing to do with feeling English or Irish," Kelly told the Reading Chronicle last year. "It was a personal thing between me and my family which we thought was best. There are no ifs and buts about it, it was just how I was feeling at the time.”

Kelly has been a shining light in a Reading side that struggled in the Championship this season and while McCarthy has put in personal phone calls to all players in the mix for a call-up to his first squad in March, Independent.ie understands Kelly has yet to hear from the new Ireland boss.

Online Editors