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Martin O'Neill leaves ball firmly in Stephen Ireland's court over player's international return

Updated: Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:57 | Comments

Stephen Ireland's agent contacted FAI after Martin O'Neill had tried to contact the player
Stephen Ireland's agent contacted FAI after Martin O'Neill had tried to contact the player

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Martin O’Neill will leave the door open to Stephen Ireland’s return to the international fold but the Irish manager said he will no longer ‘chase’ the midfielder after unsuccessful attempts to contact him before naming his squad for the summer friendlies.

O’Neill said he had tried to speak with the Stoke player in the lead up to picking his squad but none of his calls were returned, however the player’s agent had since got in touch with the FAI to say Ireland will not be available for the upcoming games against Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, O’Neill said: “I tried to get hold of Stephen a couple of times by phone – didn’t come through but that’s fine, not a problem.

“Eventually his agent spoke to the FAI and then I spoke to the agent. But the truth is this – I’ve left it in a state where I’ll not call. It’s really up to Stephen, if he wants to call me fine.

"I assume that the games coming up here were obviously too soon for him, seemingly, I’m only surmising.

“If he wants to be involved then he will have to call me.

“I will not be making the calls out. I want players who want to come and play. I’ve always said the door’s open, not a problem, but I’m not going to be chasing things round.”

The squad will assemble on Thursday to prepare for friendlies against Turkey at the Aviva Stadium on 25 May, Italy at Fulham’s Craven Cottage on 31 May, Costa Rica in Philadelphia on 6 June and Portugal in New Jersey on 10 June.

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