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Martin O'Neill on...


Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane, right, and manager Martin O'Neill

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane, right, and manager Martin O'Neill

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane, right, and manager Martin O'Neill

Robbie Keane absence

O'Neill met with LA Galaxy boss Bruce Arena in January to discuss the wellbeing of the Irish skipper and they agreed that, in the aftermath of his Achilles operation in December, it would be best if Keane sat out the Serbia game considering a trans-Atlantic trip for the sake of a 45 or 60-minute showing would not make sense ahead of a March 8 MLS opener. He'll be back in the summer.

Richard Dunne status

Dunne missed the November matches due to his ongoing fitness programme at QPR related to the groin issue that put his career in doubt.

He is part of the provisional 29-man panel for this game but might not be in the 23 given QPR's hectic league schedule next month. O'Neill is heartened by the Dubliner's regular role in Harry Redknapp's side, while suggesting his form has been mixed.

"I seem to have been at most of his games," said O'Neill. "Not every moment has been brilliant for him; sometimes he has looked sublime and done very well indeed. If there is anyone I know inside out without having to watch them another five times it's Richard, having signed him."

Summer Fixtures

Ireland will play Turkey in Dublin on May 25 and have agreed to take on Italy on May 31, with only the venue to be decided and London now the likely destination; a return trip to Craven Cottage could be on the cards.

After that, a tour to the US is planned but O'Neill is reluctant to have a long break before a third game, although promotional demands mean that the proposed June 10 clash with Portugal in New York may complete the summer schedule.

Keith Fahey/League of Ireland options

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O'Neill is aware of Fahey's move to St Pat's but politely indicated that he is not in his thinking at this point in time. "It doesn't mean that I can't reconsider in the future," he said.

"One or two managers have said they have players definitely worth looking at and when the season kicks off I will be at some of those matches."

Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny has recommended Richie Towell, Pat Hoban and Daryl Horgan to O'Neill.

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