Stephen Ireland's exile from Irish soccer squad continues
Return of Republic's most talented midfileder no nearer
Stephen Ireland won’t be in the Ireland squad for next week’s crunch World Cup qualifier in Cyprus or the Limerick friendly with South Africa despite impressing the watching Giovanni Trapattoni as Manchester City beat Wolves last Saturday.
Trap was in the Eastlands stands as Wolves went down to an Adebayor goal on Ireland’s 23rd birthday, but no meeting took place between the pair at the Stadium.
And it has since emerged that just weeks after indicating he could return to the green shirt, Ireland has hardened his stance against a comeback once again.
City boss Mark Hughes poured further cold water on any hopes of a World Cup comeback for Ireland, left out of the squad for next week’s showdown with Cyprus.
“Stephen Ireland has not changed his position in relation to international football,” said Hughes, who has publicly backed his player’s decision to stay away from his national team.
“I think Stephen’s view on international football is still the same. I think he feels that he needs, at this moment in time of his career and the way he is developing, to concentrate on club football.
“In the future who knows, but I think that is where he is at the moment.”
Hughes is quite happy that Ireland enjoys a break from football when his teammates are away on international duty, and the club will put no pressure on the 23-year-old to return almost two years after his last cap in Slovakia.
Irish boss Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli were both present in Manchester as another Emmanuel Adebayor goal secured the three points for City.
They are prepared to recall Ireland to their World Cup squad for the October clashes with Italy and Montenegro, but only if the player tells him he wants to come back.
“It is still 50-50 on a Stephen Ireland return. I have to hear him say he wants to come back and be in his country’s squad and play for his country again,” said Trapattoni.
“He could come back to the squad before the Italian game but he has to tell us he wants to come back.”
Meanwhile, FAI chief John Delaney has opened talks with Trapattoni about a new deal to stay on as Irish manager.
Trapattoni confirmed to Star Sunday that Delaney has approached him about an extension to his current contract.
The FAI board have yet to approve any offer to keep the ****2 million a year Italian in the job beyond the World Cup campaign.
But Trapattoni has revealed that Delaney has instigated informal talks on a contract to run through the 2012 Euro qualifiers.
“We have spoken informally, I have spoken to John Delaney,” said Trapattoni, whose side are right in the mix for World Cup qualification.
“I have let the FAI know my thoughts. I have no problem staying, I am happy here and I want to say.
“If they make an official approach then I will say no problem. We have spoken informally and they asked about the availability of Marco Tardelli and myself to stay on in the position.
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