I never gave up on Scott Hogan, insists Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill insists that Scott Hogan's reluctance to declare for Ireland was purely down to his injury problems as opposed to his commitment to his adopted nation.
The uncapped Aston Villa striker was included in Ireland's 32-man provisional squad for next month's two crunch World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales and O'Neill has backed Hogan to make an impression.
"I didn't give up," the Ireland manager stressed.
"When I spoke with his agent in the first place, he was looking to recover from the injuries he had. And when you look at his history of injuries, it's really understandable.
"I think there was always a viewpoint that they would come back around and now that he feels stronger and certainly looks stronger - he looks as if he's strengthened up certainly since I was first watching him - and he's raring to go.
"So in terms of giving up, no, I just thought let it settle and see how things go."
Hogan, who qualifies to play for Ireland through his Carlow-born grandmother and Wexford-born grandfather, is one of three uncapped players in the extended squad along with Sean Maguire and Aiden O'Brien who O'Neill watched in action for Millwall last night.
Jon Walters (knee) has been ruled out of both games and faces a spell on the sidelines but in more positive news, Harry Arter (calf) and James McCarthy (knee) were included.