Kevin Doyle may get chance to prove himself for France
Martin O’Neill hints he may use striker if he returns from US for two friendlies
“I wouldn’t really want to bring someone a long, long distance if I can’t guarantee him some playing time but we do have the two games and I think, personally, not having spoken to him, I think Kevin would welcome that because if he has a chance of going to France.”
Kevin Doyle looks set to be given the chance to save his place in the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro2016 when Ireland play Switzerland and Slovakia later this month, with manager Martin O’Neill suggesting that the 32-year-old striker would have to feature in those games if he is to have any chance of travelling with the squad to France in June.
Doyle has slipped dangerously down the international pecking order over last few years and, having scored 14 goals in 61 appearances for his country since making his senior debut against Sweden a decade ago this month, he has not featured at all since coming off the bench with 27 minutes remaining of the 7-0 win over Gibraltar in October 2014.
That was his only appearance of the qualifying campaign and, while he was an unused substitute in another six games, he was reportedly subjected to the embarrassment of being bumped at the last minute from the trip to Poland for the last group game when the return of two other squad members from suspension meant that there was no seat for him on the plane.
“Remember, Robbie Keane is the captain of the team and he’s always a very good and strong influence around the players,” he said. “But I’m totally conscious of the fact it’s a long way to travel for him. He’s just getting into the games and I will certainly speak to him this week. I spoke to him a couple of weeks before but it was an entirely different issue.
“In terms of Kevin, he might be a different issue. He might have to go and prove, he’s been out of the limelight for some time. He went off to America and played some games there . . . I seem to always bring him back into squads but he would be the one that seemed to be left out. But this might be an opportunity for him to come in, even though he has only played a few games, and try to get some time.
“I wouldn’t really want to bring someone a long, long distance if I can’t guarantee him some playing time but we do have the two games and I think, personally, not having spoken to him, I think Kevin would welcome that because if he has a chance of going to France, I think he would need to play in some of these games.”
NewcomersMatt DohertyChris ForresterJonny Hayes
Clearly out, though, and almost certainly not returning, is Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney who O’Neill was pretty dismissive about when asked about his latest omission.
Pressed on the matter at the squad announcement, O’Neill left very little room for misinterpretation.
“I’ve got six defenders,” he said, “there are people who have done brilliantly in the qualifiers and I’ve got one or two lads like Shane Duffy who I feel have international football ahead of them. I don’t know what more you want me to say. You continue to talk about it. Damien is 35 [he is 34]. Shane is not.”