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Roy Keane's Champions League ITV commitment not an issue - O'Neill

The Irish assistant boss’ punditry duties are set to clash with Ireland training.

O'Neill and Keane have both had stints working as pundits for ITV.
O'Neill and Keane have both had stints working as pundits for ITV.
Image: EMPICS Sport

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS said there is no issue with Roy Keane’s Champions League punditry commitments, as the assistant boss looks set to cover the final of the competition for ITV just a day before Ireland’s friendly clash with Turkey.

The former Manchester United player is set to miss part of the Irish team’s preparations, which clash with the game between Real and Atletico Madrid on 24 May.

However, O’Neill, while acknowledging that the situation is far from ideal, does not believe it to be a major problem.

“When I took Roy on I knew about his commitments at ITV,” he said. “I did not know that day in November that we would have a game the next day [after the Champions League final], this was down to me.

“I think the FAI are reasonably OK with it if I’m okay with it. I was the one that brought Roy in so I’ll accept the responsibility for him. I’ll hopefully not pass the buck unless, of course, we get beaten.

“He will be there for the game, absolutely. We’ll have training and then he’ll head out to [Lisbon] and we’ll get him back. I was aware of his commitments, at that time I didn’t know we’d be organising a game the next day. But it’s my responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the Irish manager also explained the absence of Richard Dunne, who was in action last night as QPR drew 0-0 in the first leg of their play-off semi-final with Wigan.

“Richard’s had a long season. I don’t know the last time Richard played a whole season and hardly missed a game.

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“Also, a year and a half ago it looked as though his career was finished, so to play all of those games… To be fair, he himself said he wasn’t going to put himself forward for it and the decision for myself was relatively easy. I wouldn’t dismiss it, I’m not in a position to dismiss anybody at the moment, but if you look at the squad I have a number of options — young lads coming through — and I wouldn’t mind having a look at some other options. I know exactly what Richard can do.

“He is one person I know inside out. I’ve watched him a number of times this season and I think even if Richard had not mentioned it himself, then Harry Redknapp would be on the phone to me saying, “just leave him” — one of Harry’s phrases would be — “He’s in bits”. I probably wouldn’t have taken him anyways.

“September time, though not that long away, is that start of a new season.”

One potential replacement for Dunne is Shane Duffy — the young Everton defender who has spent the season on loan at Yeovil.

While the 22-year-old has yet to consolidate a place in the Toffees’ first team, O’Neill believes the player has potential.

“Well, he’s young at the moment. I went to see him and thought he didn’t do too badly in the game. He wanted to come and head the ball aggressively in his own penalty area, which was good.

“I’ve had him watched a couple of other times since by other people and [it was] one very good performance and one not so brilliant — that might be a euphemism.

“It’s hard to say. I’d just like something fresh. [Everton] have sent him out on loan at this minute, I can understand why, he’s not going to get into the Everton team, but we’ll have a look. Only time will tell.”

Meanwhile, the Ireland manager acknowledged that another one of his younger players — David Meyler — was lucky to be available to play in Hull’s FA Cup final tie with Arsenal, after an alleged stamp on Adnan Januzaj went unpunished.

“I was really surprised at Meyler, us having praised him for saving Pardew and then he goes and lets the old veil down. He is fortunate. I think he’s come out with some sort of funny comment himself, but the referee said he had seen the incident and that was it done and dusted, but if he had seen the angle he would have done something about it. So he’s very lucky.”

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