Trapattoni dampens Ireland rumours


Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni insisted this afternoon he has not heard form Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland about a possible return to the international football but that the door remains open.

Responding to a report this morning and subsequent inquiries from journalists, the Italian issued a statement by email, saying: "We haven't heard from Stephen Ireland but if he does want to declare himself available for his country all he has to do is let us know himself through channels he is aware of."

It was reported this morning the 22-year-old was ready to return to the squad ahead of the February 11th World Cup qualifier against Georgia.

He has featured six times for Ireland and scored four goals, while he has been the stand-out player for City so far this season. 

A leading bookmaker suspended betting on his return this afternoon after receiving a flurry of bets on the player to remain out in the cold.

Ireland has been in self-imposed exile since playing against Slovakia in September 2007 and has snubbed a number of requests for his return.

He withdrew from the squad for the following game against the Czech Republic, initially citing the passing of his maternal grandmother, and then the death of his paternal grandmother, before it emerged that, in fact, his girlfriend had suffered a miscarriage.

He was called up for the clashes with Germany and Cyprus the following month, but again withdrew with then manager Steve Staunton revealing he was "not mentally ready to play for his country".

Trapattoni met Ireland, along with Steve Finnan and Andy O'Brien, in Manchester in May, and Espanyol defender Finnan has since returned to international action.

Bolton defender O'Brien decided not to make himself available, but Ireland was non-committal.

However, rumours have abounded since before Christmas when his father suggested he was ready to return.