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'Hopefully the player, at 24 years of age, would be able to pick the phone up'

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill would like to hear from Dundalk star Michael Duffy about his desire to represent the Republic of Ireland.

Michael O'Neill and Michael Duffy.
Michael O'Neill and Michael Duffy.
Image: INPHO

NORTHERN IRELAND MANAGER Michael O’Neill has not been in contact with Michael Duffy following news in recent weeks that the Dundalk star wishes to represent the Republic of Ireland instead of Northern Ireland.

The Derry-born footballer made a number of underage appearances for Northern Ireland and was also included in a September 2016 World Cup qualifier squad.

However, the winger has recently made it known that he wants to play for the Republic going forward.

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed last week that Duffy did want to play for his side, and that paperwork to complete the move was being processed. Duffy was a standout performer for Dundalk this season, and last weekend was named PFAI Player of the Year following a league and FAI Cup-winning campaign.

“Young Duffy is hoping to come through,” Martin O’Neill said at a press conference in Dublin on 6 November.

“The paperwork is there. He’s chosen to play for us, which is great. I think he’s an exceptionally talented player.”

Michael Duffy with the Player's Player of the Year Award Duffy was named PFAI Player of the Year last weekend. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Despite the Ireland boss stating that the 24-year-old wished to represent the Republic of Ireland, Michael O’Neill on Wednesday maintained that he had not heard from the player about the move.

Well, Michael hasn’t informed me of his decision yet, but we are aware of this,” the Northern Ireland manager said speaking ahead of tomorrow’s friendly at the Aviva Stadium.

“Michael has played for us at U19 and U21 level over a dozen times. Two years ago he was picked as part of our squad for the Czech Republic game.

“So I’m hoping that Michael picks up the phone and let’s me know his decision, because he hasn’t done that yet.”

Soccer - UEFA Euro Under 21 Championships - Qualifying - Group Three - Northern Ireland v Scotland - Mourneview Park The winger (right) made 12 appearances at underage level for Northern Ireland but says he hopes to play for the Republic of Ireland at senior level. Source: Niall Carson

The ex-Shamrock Rovers boss insists that his side has strength in-depth on the wing, but that he would still like Duffy to make contact about his decision over which country he preferred to represent at senior level.

“I think I’m going to be committed to the Republic of Ireland now after getting a phone call from Martin,” Duffy said speaking back in September.

“I got a call from him saying he wants me to join up with the squad when I can. I don’t know what needs to happen with clearance and stuff.

“That obviously needs to come through, I’m not too sure what happens there. But once I got that call, I was all set straight away.”

Michael O'Neill Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill was speaking at the Aviva Stadium ahead of tomorrow's friendly. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The forward made 12 underage appearances for Northern Ireland and was called into the side’s senior squad two years ago for a 2018 World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic.

However he is eligible to switch allegiances given he has not represented Northern Ireland in a senior competitive fixture.

He wouldn’t be a massive loss for us,” said O’Neill.

“At the end of the day, the player makes the decision. We have good players in that area — Stuart Dallas, Jordan Jones, we’ve Gavin Whyte, Niall McGinn, Jamie Ward.

“Michael is another player and if he makes that decision [to play for the Republic of Ireland], then that’s the decision that he’s entitled to make. But hopefully, as I say, the player at 24 years of age would be able to pick the phone up.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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