O’Neill and Keane to scout squad players across leagues

Irish management team to watch QPR and Derby as well as Premier League games

Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill Manager are stepping up their scouting operations over the coming days. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill Manager are stepping up their scouting operations over the coming days. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 01:00

With the squad for Ireland’s game against Serbia due to be named next Thursday week in Limerick, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane are stepping up their scouting operations over the coming days with the Northerner at Southampton against Stoke today while his assistant takes in the Celtic and Aberdeen game.

With Séamus Coleman set to return from injury, O’Neill will be at Tottenham versus Everton tomorrow while he, Keane and Séamus McDonagh will jointly take in the Championship game between promotion rivals Derby and QPR on Monday when several potential squad members, including Kevin Doyle and England youth international Patrick Bamford, should be in action.

Keane will then be at Everton versus Crystal Palace on Wednesday night when, once again, there should be several players – including Coleman, Aiden McGeady, James McCarthy, Damien Delaney and, possibly, Paddy McCarthy to keep an eye on.

Roberto Martinez has expressed confidence that Darron Gibson will return from his cruciate ligament injury to play again this season with the Spaniard observing yesterday that: “Darron is progressing really well and I feel he will be back before the season ends, which is a real bonus.

“Maybe it is a bit too early to give a clear date when he will be back but I expect him to be playing again in May.”

Wes Hoolahan, meanwhile, is back in the Norwich squad for today’s home game against Manchester City after his failed attempt to force a move from the club during the transfer window.

“We’re aware of what happened during the window,” said Chris Hughton yesterday, “but the window is closed now and I’ve spoken to Wes; he is very much committed. We have a 14-game run in to the end of the season and he’s very much there for the challenge; Wes will be there fighting for his place.”