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Marco: Duff should move

KEVIN DOYLE has already escaped from the prospect of another season outside of England's top flight -- and Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli has advised team-mates Stephen Hunt and Damien Duff to do the same and secure Premier League football for themselves.

It's been a busy summer so far for some of Trapattoni's squad, as Kevin Doyle, Stephen Kelly and Damien Delaney have already secured moves, but it's likely that Richard Dunne will also be on the move, if Sunderland can agree a fee with Manchester City for the defender.

Yet there are three vital games left in the World Cup qualifying campaign, and the Irish management team do no want to see key players like Damien Duff get ready for that potential group decider against Italy at Croke Park in October by playing club matches for Newcastle against Scunthorpe, Peterborough and Doncaster Rovers.

There has been interest from the Bundesliga in Duff, who has a year left on his contract at Newcastle, while a number of Premier League clubs are said to be this weekend preparing a bid for Reading's Hunt.


And Tardelli, who was speaking in Monaghan yesterday ahead of the FAI AGM, says that his boss would prefer to see all of his top players lining out in the top flight next season.

"Some players have already changed their clubs. Kevin Doyle has got a good move and only yesterday Damien Delaney went to Ipswich and that's good for us. But others may move from their clubs, like Stephen Hunt, and we hope that during the transfer window people like Hunt will also change clubs," said Tardelli.

"Steve Finnan is also in a situation where he might have to change. He didn't play much for Espanyol last year due to injuries. He could be an important player for us still, but he needs to be playing regularly. Hopefully he can do that, maybe with a new club, I don't know, but he needs to play every week.

"Damien Duff is in a difficult situation with Newcastle. The club have been relegated and there have been difficulties with the manager and the whole club. He is an important player for us and we want to see him playing for a big team in a big league.

"If that happens to be in England or Germany or any other country, that is Damien's choice, but it would be good for him to be in the Premier League somewhere.

"It's very important that Kevin Doyle will be in the Premier League next year. The Championship is a good level of football but the Premier League is the best, and any player should always look to play at the highest level.

"The main thing is that he plays games, it would be better for any player to play regularly in the Championship than only playing a few games in the Premier League.

"There is a difference in players, depending on what league they are in. When the players are up against players from Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, they are getting experience against international-class players and we need that for Ireland to be successful. That experience will be vital to us if we are to get to the World Cup," added Tardelli.

Since Ireland's last game, against Bulgaria in June, there has been a lot of speculation about the possibility of the FAI 'signing up' some players who had previously played for England at underage level but are now eligible for Ireland under FIFA's rule change, with Tottenham's Jamie O'Hara one possibility.

"Giovanni will consider any players who are able to play for us, but we have a good squad with Ireland already," Tardelli said.

"I have seen O'Hara play for his club and I like him, when I came to the job with Ireland first I saw the name 'O'Hara', I knew it was an Irish name so I was curious, but I looked at many other players too."

One task ahead of Trapattoni in the coming weeks is to find out the intentions of Stephen Ireland, with the case of Dean Kiely also on his mind, as the West Brom man has not been involved with the international squad since he quit the Irish camp ahead of the friendly with Nigeria in May, in frustration at being left out of the side in favour of Shay Given and Keiren Westwood.

"As far as I know there has been no contact with Kiely, but I don't know for sure. Is he finished with Ireland for good? Right now we don't know, but I always believe that you should never say 'never' in football.

"With Stephen Ireland, Giovanni will decide when he speaks to him and after they speak, we will have a decision.

"I don't know when, it's possible it's next week or it's possible after the match against Australia. I don't know, I don't know but soon," added Tardelli, who was interested to hear Ireland claim last week that he was strongly considering a return to the national squad.

"Also in the first meeting last year we were very encouraged and open to discussion. It's good that Stephen Ireland says this is an interview. It's OK. He's a good player. He's a player who is important for Ireland but we also have other important players.


"The players who have played until now have played very well. They have worked very hard. We are happy now. If Stephen Ireland wants to come back, we are happy, no problem."

Tardelli watched with interest as his native Italy flopped at the Confederations Cup in South Africa last month, a 3-0 defeat to Brazil the low point of the tournament, and the Italian performance raised many questions about the future of the game there, with veteran defender Fabio Cannavaro very scathing in his views of the state of the Italian game.

"The tournament did not go well for Italy, but Italy are not weak now, they are still a strong, strong team, but maybe they will make changes in the next few games with some young players coming in," he said.

"The best player in Italy now is Antonio Cassano and we all know that he has not played for Italy for a long time. He would be a good player for Italy but, for Ireland's sake, I hope he stays away from the national team," added Tardelli, who says that Ireland's next game -- away to Cyprus in September -- could define the group.

"We are going well in the group but we need to 'fly down' as we say in Italian, or keep our feet on the ground as the road is long. We played well against Italy and in the other games, Italy at home in October is a big game for us, but for now, Cyprus away is the vital one.

"If we win against Cyprus, then it's very possible for us to win the group, and I think that people in Italy know that, so the finish of the group should be very exciting."