Richard Dunne to skip Republic of Ireland’s end-of-season friendlies

34-year-old defender accepts decision may mean the end of his international career


Richard Dunne is to skip the Republic of Ireland’s end-of-season friendly games in Dublin, London and the US for a mixture of personal and professional reasons, a decision the 34-year-old accepts may mean that he has played his last game for his country.

The veteran defender has yet to talk things through with Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, but he feels that, aside from unspecified personal reasons, he would be pushing his luck to extend an already punishing season into June having returned relatively recently from an injury that threatened to end his career.

“The manager knows what I can do,” he said yesterday at the launch of a Ford ‘Swappage’ offer. “I worked with him for a year, so I’ll be there if he needs me. I’m comfortable either way, if I’m picked great and if not, I understand that I’ve missed out on a few games and the team needs to move on eventually and that’s just the way it is.

“He (O’Neill) said before the summer comes that he would come over and have a chat and in terms of being available in the summer, ideally I would have been, but with the play-offs going on for the extra three weeks, to come out of the season having played nearly 50 games ... I mean it’s important for the team to play together with Ireland and for the manager to see everyone playing together and that, but when September comes around I will be available.”

Club career
Asked if he had considered actually retiring from international football in order to concentrate on the remainder of his club career, the Dubliner, who has made 80 appearances for his country – the last of them against Kazakhstan in October – admitted that he had. However, he added: “I don’t see the need to retire, if I’m not picked, I’m not picked; if I am, brilliant, I should be available. If the manager wants to use me, I’ll come over. If not, that’s fine as well.”

Assuming the London side’s campaign is extended and the Irishman plays in every one of the remaining games he would have featured in precisely 50 games for club and country since last summer.

Dunne, who recently extended his contract at QPR to cover next season, admits that there were a couple of months when he feared his career was over. “I went to see a doctor and he said he’d never seen it before and he was a top specialist in England,” he recalled. “He recommended two doctors who would do two different parts of the operation but had doubts it would work. You walk out of the office and you think: ‘Shit, that’s it.’

“You wait and see, have more scans, all the reports are it can’t be fixed but after six to eight weeks I went to America and the Americans being Americans said: ‘Yeah, we’ll fix you no problem.’”

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