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PA Archive/Press Association Images Damien Delaney recently signed a new contract with Crystal Palace.
# Looking Back
Are issues with Keane part of the reason behind Delaney's absence from the Irish squad?
The in-form Palace defender has played just 65 minutes of football under Martin O’Neill.

Updated at 19.50

DAMIEN DELANEY’S CONTINUING absence from the Ireland squad is a source of confusion to many.

Along with Ciaran Clark, Delaney is the only Irish centre-back currently playing regularly in the Premier League, and yet Championship players such as Paul McShane and Alex Pearce are picked instead of him, as the Crystal Palace man has persistently been omitted from recent squads.

Delaney has captained Palace of late and his good form saw him rewarded with a new contract at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, when interviewed by Sky ahead of their game last weekend, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger cited Palace’s defence as one of their main strengths.

There are a number of possible explanations for Delaney’s continuing absence from the Ireland set-up (he has played just 65 minutes of action for O’Neill in a May 2014 friendly against Turkey).

O’Neill indicated today that the player was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of being part of Ireland’s squad last summer for the friendlies against Portugal and Costa Rica.

The former Celtic manager also suggested that the player only wants to be considered if he has a strong chance of playing in the first XI.

Speaking at this afternoon’s press conference, the Ireland boss said:

“I had a conversation with Damien this time last year. Damien played in a game for me and then we had a conversation at the time. He didn’t come out to the American trip with us and I think he felt, with the number of centre-halfs that we had at the time and age catching up with him, that his time had gone.

“That was not the case, but I can’t guarantee anybody a place in the side. I don’t think that Damien, from his own viewpoint, would definitely come back to play if he wasn’t guaranteed playing in the side. And I don’t think at his age if he wants to be running as just being part of this squad. I can’t guarantee that to almost all the team.

“But he has done well, he is starting with Crystal Palace now and all the best for him this season.”

Yet Delaney’s relationship with Roy Keane — which has been fractious in the past — may also be a factor in Delaney’s ostensible reluctance to fight for his place in the Ireland side.

Back in December 2010, when Keane was managing Delaney at Ipswich, the pair were rumoured to be involved in a training-ground fight, though both the club and the player himself denied that such an incident occurred.

Keane also later acknowledged in his autobiography that he had been too hard on Delaney, along with other Irish players at Ipswich, writing:

“Damien Delaney came in and did OK. I was hard on him, probably because I knew him and he was from Cork. I went over the top. I was the same with another lad, Colin Healy. He was from Cork, too, and I told him he was moving his feet like a League of Ireland player. It was wrong. Colin was new at the club; I should have been bending over backwards for him. I made the point about Ellis Short talking to me like I was something on the bottom of his shoe. I think I spoke like that to some people at Ipswich.”

Delaney is far from the only Irish player Roy Keane has had history with ahead of his appointment as Ireland assistant boss though, so perhaps the problem is Delaney’s rather than his coach’s.

Furthermore, last year, Palace assistant boss Keith Millen, in an interview with the Croydon Advertiser, went so far as to suggest that Delaney had considered quitting football on account of the way Keane had been treating him.

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“I spoke to him when I was Bristol City manager in January 2012 and his head had gone,” Millen said.

“I think he’d had a real tough time with Roy Keane as manager and he was almost thinking of quitting the game or going abroad to America.

“I tried to persuade him to come to Bristol, and I can’t remember now why it fell through or the finances put forward, but I didn’t sign him.

“For him to go from there in his career to have two great years at Palace, he’s been so consistent.

“I think that has coincided with how the team has been set up as well this season.”

Delaney also described Keane as “unreasonable” in a 2011 court case when defending himself against a speeding charge, noting how then then-Ipswich boss would fine players “thousands of pounds” if they were late for training.

Of course, Delaney may simply want to spend more time with his family as well as perhaps needing to reserve his ageing body solely for the rigours of Premier League football, but the presence of Keane in the Irish set-up probably isn’t encouraging him to reconsider this decision, despite the player’s fantastic recent form.

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