Eamon Dunphy believes Martin O’Neill had no choice but to be patient with Stephen Ireland because of the 'desperate' need for more quality in the Republic of Ireland squad.
The Stoke City midfielder has dominated headlines again this week after failing to return phone calls from the Ireland manager, and the player’s agent informed the FAI that he wouldn’t be available for selection for the summer friendlies.
O’Neill has now attempted to draw a line under the matter, saying he will not reach out further to Ireland, and Dunphy thinks the manager has little choice but to tolerate the situation.
He told RTÉ Sport: “Martin is experienced enough to know sometimes players at the end of the season just don't pay attention. But Stephen Ireland must know, he has family here, that the man wants to talk to him. The idea that he has lost Martin's phone number is preposterous really.
“His agent would certainly have it. Martin is going the extra yard to try to get this guy onside. But it doesn't look as if it is going to happen. I think Martin will have to live with that.
“It just underlines how desperate we are for a quality player who is playing in the Premier League and playing well and that could make a difference.
“I don't blame Martin for going the extra yard. But I think at some point you have to think about the team and the signals you are sending out to other people.”
"He is a very good player and we have a dearth of attacking talent." Eamon Dunphy
Dunphy added that it now looks like O’Neill will have to plan without Ireland as the upcoming four games are key ahead of the start of qualification for Euro 2016.
“Martin is being extremely reasonable. He is a very strong manager with a great reputation for managing players in situations. If it was anyone else, you'd accuse him of weakness, but he is being ultra reasonable. It appears that Stephen Ireland is impossible to deal with.
“Mark Hughes has resurrected his career at Stoke. Mark was his manager at Manchester City when he was not so long ago voted player of the year. He is a very good player and we have a dearth of attacking talent.
“I can understand why Martin wants him but I think what he is doing now is being as reasonable as possible.
“If he doesn't want to be integrated into the team at this stage, in the summer when there are important matches before our Autumn qualifiers, then it's probably time to say ‘goodbye Stephen’.”