Ireland’s Richard Dunne rested by Martin O’Neill

QPR defender will not feature against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday

Richard Dunne (left) will sit out this week’s friendly. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Richard Dunne (left) will sit out this week’s friendly. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Sun, Mar 2, 2014, 16:39

Martin O’Neill hopes Richard Dunne will feature in Ireland’s end of season friendlies but the northerner has confirmed the QPR defender has been told he can stay in London for Wednesday’s friendly against Serbia.

Rob Elliott and Kevin Doyle ruled out of the game by injuries yesterday, while Andy Reid withdrew in order to have surgery on a hernia.

Dunne’s form and fitness continues to come as a pleasant surprise to O’Neill, it seems, who suggested again this afternoon that the defender’s career looked to be over this time last year, but, he said: “I don’t think he’s missed a game for QPR this season, and that’s not something that would have been envisaged last year. If the qualifying games were starting tomorrow then you’d certainly have to consider him because he’s played a lot of games and has an awful lot of experience.

“But September’s a long way away so I’ve told him to leave these games, concentrate on seeing out the season and then hopefully he’ll join us for the end of season games.”

O’Neill says he is glad to have the draw out of the way and some competitive fixtures in the pipeline. “I think it will all be drawing the focus of the players,” but his priority for the moment is to continue weighing up his options. “Against Latvia we played very well, as you would expect us to, but we went to Poland and it was difficult. This is another opportunity to look at things and assess the players that I have.”

He acknowledged the lack of first team opportunities for some of his players made for a less than ideal situation but, in the case of Aiden McGeady, suggested: “It was always going to be a difficult move for Aiden because Everton are playing brilliantly. But the manager there didn’t just bring him into be a part of the squad and I think it’s down to Aiden to make that breakthrough.”

Asked about Alan Pardew’s remarkable tangle with David Meyler on Saturday, O’Neill sought to steer clear of getting involved but, he said: “It didn’t look good (but) I think David did very, very well for the Newcastle manager. Other players may have gone down. His own club manager Steve (Bruce) made reference to that. I know David and I think overall he did very, very well for the Newcastle manager.”

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