Martin O’Neill keeps door open for Damien Delaney Ireland return

Crystal Palace defender believed to be reconsidering his international retirement

 

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has not ruled out a possible international return for Crystal Palace centre back Damien Delaney at this summer’s European Championships in France.

The 34-year-old Cork-born player seemed to end any chance of a comeback in releasing a statement last August, citing the strain of Premier League football as well as a certain disillusionment with how his nine-cap international career had panned out.

Delaney has enjoyed a fine season at Selhurst Park, playing in all 26 Premier League games for Alan Pardew’s side, and also playing his part in their run to the quarter-final of the FA Cup.

Only last weekend Pardew offered his view that Delaney may be reconsidering his position.

O’Neill, speaking on TV3 ahead of coverage of the Champions League match between Arsenal and Barcelona, outlined his position.

“The summer before last when we had a trip to America: Damien played in the match before that, I think it was the Turkey game, and I think Damien felt that he was never going to be a first choice at the time and declined to go to America.

“I mean that didn’t augur too well, whatever he says about it, he said that he would make himself available if he had a decent chance of getting into the squad, or into the team.

“I wasn’t in the position to actually make those decisions, I couldn’t guarantee anybody in the side. So we went out separate ways at that time.

“Don’t get me wrong, Damien’s had an excellent season with Crystal Palace, he is on the wrong side of 30, he hasn’t played that many competitive games for the Republic of Ireland through his career, but I have to say that the way that we have in terms of centre halves, if we get a few more injuries, I certainly couldn’t rule out anything, particularly if players have an interest in playing as well.”

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