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.
“We have said we are ready to speak. Now we wait for them to decide. They have to think whether they are happy with me or not.
“If they ask me to stay then I am here. I want to finish the job I have started.”
Trapattoni has named an unchanged 24 man squad for the trip to Cyprus and the home game with South Africa, but there is no place for Sunderland midfielder Andy Reid. Liam Miller is included despite the fact that he has yet to find a club following his release from QPR last May.
CELTIC boss Tony Mowbray watched his Ireland star Aiden McGeady torment St. Johnstone at Parkhead on Saturday, then tipped the youngster to ignore reported interest from Spurs before the transfer window closes.
English media reports suggested that Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp would have McGeady watched against Arsenal in Wednesday night’s big Champions League clash in London.
But new Bhoys boss Mowbray is confident he will keep hope for his World Cup winger.
“I don’t think there is any suggestions that Aiden McGeady would go anywhere,” Mowbray said. “I don’t think there is any speculation either.
“You can throw any one of a dozen names in there instead of Aiden, but I think it’s important that we keep our best players. The last week of the transfer window is when things start to happen at football clubs.
“Teams are sitting there hoping to move so-and-so on but don’t want to be too anxious because they don’t want the price to drop.
“Some clubs start to panic and start offering much more money than the player is worth, other clubs are pushing people out the door and other teams are getting bargains.
“I would suggest there is a potential for a bit of movement and we would hope that there would be, but if there isn’t then I won’t be sitting here after the Hibs game next week disappointed.
“I have said from day one I am happy with the squad.”
St. Johnstone boss Derek McInnes paid a special tribute to Irish winger McGeady after his team’s defeat to the Bhoys at Celtic Park on Saturday.
Marc-Antoine Fortune and Shaun Maloney both grabbed doubles and Scott McDonald scored as the Hoops cruised to a 5-2 victory.
McInnes said, “In a perverse sort of way I enjoyed watching Celtic play. Aiden McGeady is a special player, I wish he was Scottish.
“He was magnificent at times, sucking two or three players to the ball. He looks to have a real understanding of what his manager is trying to do.”
South Korean side FC Seoul have confirmed that Celtic have expressed an interest in signing their highly-rated young midfielder Ki Sung-yong.
Cork City have announced that they will take on Celtic in a fund raising friendly clash at Turner’s Cross on 9 September.
SPORTING Fingal will meet Shamrock Rovers in the quarterfinals of the Ford FAI Cup when Bohs take on Sligo Rovers, Longford face Bray and Waterford United are at home to St Patrick’s Athletic or Monaghan United . . .
FORMER Irish under-21 goalkeeper Shane Supple has opted to quit professional football with Ipswich Town and return home to Dublin after “falling out of love” with the game . . .
SUNDERLAND have sold Irish defender Paul McShane to Hull City in a £2 million deal, while winger Anthony Stokes has left for Scottish side Hibernian on a free transfer . . .
ASTON Villa, Sunderland and Everton are all weighing up moves for Manchester City’s Richard Dunne after the Blues signed Joleon Lescott on Tuesday.
DERVAL O’Rourke’s amazing return to form this season almost produced a world championship medal in Berlin as she finished an agonizing fourth in the women’s 100 meter hurdles final.
O’Rourke broke her own Irish record in an incredible performance with a time of 12.67seconds as she lost out on a medal by just 0.12 seconds.
“Fourth is a hard place to be but when I’ve finished fourth I’ve always built on it,” said Cork’s O’Rourke. “It’s a national record. It took me three years to get back to this territory and I have to be incredibly happy and just have a tiny pity party, but outside of that I have to be very happy.
“Fourth at the worlds -- if you had told me this that last year at the Olympics I would have killed you for it. I knew I had to run my socks off to make the final and I didn’t want to be the person who is the token lane in the final. I wanted to be there and represent myself really well and keep my head held high and do well.
“I think I’m as good as everybody in the world on my day and it’s just frustrating. But I’ve had so many bad days so I can take this and smile.”
David Gillick came home in sixth place in the final of the 400 meters, the top European finisher on a night that saw him compete as the first Irishman to make a world 400 meter decider.
BOXING: Promoter Brian Peters has confirmed that WBA super-bantamweight champion Bernard Dunne will make the first defense of his title at the O2 in Dublin on Saturday, September 26 when he faces number one rated contender Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand . . .
RACING: Banned jockey Kieren Fallon could make his return to the saddle in England when his suspension is lifted on September 4 after receiving offers to ride at Catterick, Chepstow, Lingfield and Kempton . . .
GOLF: Ireland’s Peter Lawrie was beaten in a playoff by England’s Simon Dyson at the KLM Open in Holland on Sunday when Damien McGrane and Darren Clarke both finished in the top 10 . . .
CYCLING: Lance Armstrong failed to finish as England’s Russell Downing won the Tour of Ireland in Cork on Sunday.