Ireland trio back on board as Noel King does it his way
Republic of Ireland interim manager appears to have laid the groundwork for Stephen Ireland’s return
Ireland’s Kevin Doyle, Andy Reid and Anthony Stokes arrive for training in 2007 and now find themselves back in the picture for this month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Noel King admits to feeling a little bad about the way things finished with Giovanni Trapattoni but has wasted no time in asserting his independence from the Italian, with Darron Gibson, Anthony Stokes and Andy Reid all on course for international returns next week after the Republic of Ireland interim manager named them in his squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan.
The Dubliner admits that he found it impossible to consult with his predecessor after failing to get in touch when the 73-year-old was dismissed by the FAI last month. He has shown more of a gift for communications with players the Italian found problematic, however, and appears to have laid the groundwork for Stephen Ireland’s return over the coming months too.
“I was going to give him a ring and I should have, to say goodbye,” he said, “but I didn’t know how to do it because it’s not a nice time when you come to the end of your contract. So I didn’t consult him, no. The temptation was to do it (but) I put the phone down.”
King insists that he had no axe to grind with the Italian who, he says, was “good to me”. He acknowledged that he would have been disappointed on occasions when some players were taken from the under-21s in order to join the senior squad.
However, he quickly demonstrated that he knows just how his predecessor felt when he laughed off a suggestion that he might leave Robbie Brady to Harry McCue for the two European Championship qualifiers against Romania this month. “I might take another couple just to see how he copes,” he joked.
Brady, in any case, was forced to withdraw from the squad within a matter of hours and the Hull City midfielder is to have surgery on a groin problem.
Jon Walters, meanwhile, is a doubt for the games but King insists he is well covered having named 26 players in a preliminary squad that includes Kevin Doyle but not the likes of Conor Sammon, Darren O’Dea or Andy Keogh.
The 57-year-old has put quite a stamp on things in what could prove to be his only senior squad, with Simon Cox and Paddy Madden omitted too in order to make way for Stokes while some of those who might have hoped a change of manager might lead to a call in from the cold, most notably Keith Andrews and perhaps Stephen Ward, have also been disappointed.
Most of all, though, the announcement will be remembered for the recall of players who fell out with Trapattoni and, as a result, slipped to the sidelines. Reid’s return has been the longest coming although it might well be the least significant. Both Gibson and Stokes would be seem to be in with decent shouts of going straight into the team against Germany and King will be in Glasgow tonight to cast an eye over the Celtic player who is something of an old favourite from his time with the under-21s.