Just days after the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni, Stephen Ireland admits he would consider making himself available for the Republic of Ireland again.
The midfielder hasn’t featured for the Irish since he lied about the death of both of his grandmothers after pulling out of the squad to face the Czech Republic in a European Championship qualifier six years ago. Trapattoni, who was appointed head coach the following year, tried to persuade him to return, but following discussions Ireland branded the legendary Italian as arrogant.
A 1-0 defeat to Austria in Vienna last week all but ended the Republic’s chances of making the World Cup Finals next year, and also resulted in the departure of Trapattoni. And just days after, the Stoke City midfielder, who is on loan at the Britannia Stadium from Aston Villa, has revealed he would be willing to consider making an international return in the future.
“I think I would like to get together and have a chat and try to put everything on the table, put across ideas and just have a good general chat,” he said. “If nothing comes out of it, nothing comes out of it, but I think it would be nice just to have a chat. It was my decision to leave Ireland and it’s probably going to be my decision to go back if the manager asks, whoever they appoint.”
Martin O’Neill is the strong favourite to succeed Trapattoni, and he could even be unveiled in the coming days. Ireland joined Villa just days after the Ulsterman quit the Midlands club, yet it is believed by that stage the 61-year-old had already put the wheels in motion to sign the midfielder as part of the deal which saw James Milner leave for Manchester City.
Ireland, who was regarded as one of the brightest talents in the county during his days at the Etihad Stadium, has scored four goals in the six caps he has for his country. He made his debut for Stoke as a substitute in the goalless draw with his former club on Saturday. His Villa contract is set to expire in the summer, and he has already spoken of the possibility of joining the Potters permanently.
“If I do well at Stoke and they want me at the end of the loan spell – and as I will be out of contract – I think that, yes, my Villa career is effectively over,” he told Sky Sports last week. “I would [consider staying at Stoke permanently], as my first impressions of the club have been fantastic. Everybody has been so welcoming and there seems to be a great buzz about the place.”