'He wants to play for us' - Noel King on Stephen Ireland

The caretaker manager has been in touch with the Stoke player about a return to the international fold.

Stephen Ireland celebrates scoring in what turned out to be his last game for his country.
Stephen Ireland celebrates scoring in what turned out to be his last game for his country.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

AFTER RECALLING FOUR players who had found themselves out of favour under former manager Giovanni Trapattoni, Noel King said today that another exile, Stephen Ireland, ‘wants to play’ for his country again.

Speaking after announcing his 25-man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan, King said he’d been in touch with representatives of the Stoke midfielder who hasn’t played for his country since 2007.

“I spoke to Stephen’s agent. I completely understand, he’s been out for so long. He’s a very good player and has played a couple of half games that I watched.

“He’s getting his career back on track and I understand fully that he’s not ready in his head, in his physique, in his conditioning.

“I respect what he said. If you had a son and he was in that position you’d like to make sure not to rush it.

“He wants to be back in top condition for himself and he wants to play for Ireland.”

When pressed further, King said that any decision on a return would ultimately have to be taken by the 27-year old.

“That’s up to him but from what I’ve gathered he wants to play for Ireland and that’s great.”

Ireland has been in self-imposed exile from the international set-up since falsely claiming his grandmothers had died before a key Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic.

Despite only playing six times for his country, Ireland has four goals to his name and has reportedly expressed a desire to return recently.

Old faces recalled to Ireland squad for World Cup qualifiers

Poll: Which returning Irish player are you happiest to see?

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Steve O'Rourke

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