Tuesday 16 January 2018

Northern Ireland boss O’Neill blasts FAI over pursuit of young players

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

NORTHERN IRELAND manager Michael O'Neill believes the FAI have "moral issues" to address over their pursuit of players from the six counties.

in criticising the FAI's approach, the former Shamrock Rovers boss pointed to the difficulties endured by Darron Gibson, James McClean and Marc Wilson under Giovanni Trapattoni and the lack of opportunities for less high-profile players like Daniel Kearns, who took a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to ensure he could play for the Republic.

O'Neill appears to have stemmed the flow of players, but remains frustrated that North-born Premier League regulars are denied to him by the rules that are in place.

"Marc Wilson had his problems, James (McClean) has had his problems, Darron Gibson has certainly not played anywhere near as much for the Republic of Ireland as he would have done for Northern Ireland," he said.

"Daniel Kearns, I feel a bit sorry (for). He was, possibly, a young lad that was put in a position that maybe the association shouldn't have put him in.

"As a player at 17 or 19, to change your allegiance without any potential promise of a full international career, I think there's a moral issue there. I don't think that's to the benefit of a player's career. And I think there is a moral aspect, as an association, to make sure that the interest is genuine."

When later he was asked if he comes across Trapattoni at games in England often, O'Neill said: "Funnily enough, I don't actually."

Irish Independent

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