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Dublin: 8°C Monday 17 May 2021

Roy Keane: I met Stephen Ireland's granny on flight to Cork today

The Ireland assistant boss says Martin O’Neill isn’t closing the door on any player.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

ROY KEANE INSISTS the door is open to a Stephen Ireland return to the international fold.

And the Boys in Green assistant manager was yesterday encouraged to end the player’s exile by an unusual source  – one of the grandmothers at the centre of the controversy that prompted the Cobh midfielder’s exit from Steve Staunton’s squad in 2007.

“Well, I spoke with the grandmother this morning, she was on the flight coming over — and she asked me would he get back involved,” Keane told the audience at the launch of Cork City’s Patronage Scheme at UCC last night.

“I couldn’t lie to her. I said he’d have a chance, if he’s playing well. I think Martin has had a conversation with him and all that needs to fall into place. We all know how talented Stephen is and Martin will look at that.

“We wouldn’t be shutting the door on any player. But what is important for any player, and Stephen is the same, is it does help to be playing week-in week-out. He’s obviously had a difficult spell, you mentioned young Meyler earlier as well. If you want to improve  you’ve got to play week-in, week-out. He’s only just got a run of games at Stoke now, I know he sat out the game against Aston Villa.

“So I certainly wouldn’t be ruling anyone out.”

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