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Donall Farmer/INPHO Alan Pardew said Delaney is prepared to 'swallow his pride.'
'I couldn't rule anything out' - O'Neill remains coy on Delaney's Ireland return
The Ireland boss also spoke about the upcoming friendlies in Dublin.

MARTIN O’NEILL APPEARS to have left the door open for Damien Delaney’s return to the Ireland squad.

The Crystal Palace defender announced his retirement from international football back in August after playing a little over an hour for the Boys in Green during O’Neill’s time in charge.

But reports over the weekend suggested the 34-year-old Cork-man was considering making himself available for selection again and O’Neill says he can’t rule anything out at this stage.

“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,” O’Neill said on TV3 this evening.

“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.”

Delaney has been a regular at the heart of the Crystal Palace defence, playing in 20 of the club’s 26 Premier League games so far this season. 

His last Ireland appearance came two years ago in a friendly with Turkey.

Speaking on TV3′s Champions League coverage, O’Neill said he’ll use the upcoming friendlies against Switzerland and Slovakia in Dublin to experiment ahead of Euro 2016.

“There will be a bit of a fight in a few positions. You will see some experimentation in the upcoming friendlies,” the Ireland manager continued.

“Peripheral players will get a chance to prove themselves but it is going to be very hard to shift the group that got us to qualify.

“There are very much so some spots up for grabs. We need to look at some players who maybe haven’t played as much football as others in the team in recent months.

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“Aiden McGeady for instance has moved to Sheffield Wednesday and it will be great to see him get some game time.

“The fitter the players are in terms of games played, that is very important for us.”

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