Saturday 16 December 2017

Martin O'Neill: Harry Kane won't be playing for us

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during his squad announcement for the Republic of Ireland's upcoming UEFA EURO 2016 Group D qualifier v Poland
Martin O'Neill
Mauricio Pochettino hailed a 'fantastic' display from Tottenham's Harry Kane, pictured

MARTIN O’Neill has abandoned any remaining hope that Harry Kane might yet declare for Ireland.

And the Ireland boss is no hurry to chase down Jack Grealish despite the fact that O’Neill has been actively searching for new talent.

“Harry himself always wanted to play for England. Initially, the agent got in touch and we wanted to chase it up but I read in the paper that he wanted to play for England and I left it that,” said O’Neill.

“I got that call on that day Kane said he wanted to play for England. It would have been really nice and there’s a fairly decent chance that he would have got a few caps for us before he played for England.”

O’Neill is searching hard for new talent and dangled the possibility that one or two new names might just be ready to wear green by June when Ireland meet Scotland in Euro 2016 action and England in a friendly.

READ MORE: Martin O’Neill accidentally axes Wes Hoolahan from Ireland squad

“I’m following up on a number of leads, I don’t want to sound like a detective. There’s one or two might come to fruition before the Scotland game and you might be pleasantly  surprised.”

Mauricio Pochettino hailed a 'fantastic' display from Tottenham's Harry Kane, pictured

“One player, in particular, has bypassed agents and he’s pretty keen. I’m putting something in action at the moment. I can’t say anything because he would probably end up embarrassing myself when he turns up playing for Czechoslovakia,” laughed O’Neill

Has O’Neill any fears that young lads like Kane and Patrick Bamford have come under pressure at their clubs not to declare for Ireland.

“I hadn’t considered it like that. If there’s someone showing promise and let’s say that they’re showing promise at club level but not getting into the team, I think perhaps at under age level, the manager of the Under 21s might want to introduce them that way.  I don’t think the clubs put them under that much pressure. I didn’t find that with Aston Villa that they were putting pressure on (Grealish),” he added.

Asked what the situation is regarding Grealish, O’Neill left no doubt that he is less than happy with the Villa starlet.

“I don’t know. I haven’t chased it. There are other issues. If someone comes along who is keen, well you say ‘listen do you want to play?’ But if someone leaves you hanging around waiting, I’m not over-enamoured by that. I’m not going to chase it,” he said.

One of them is without doubt James McCarthy. The Everton midfielder’s fitness remains an ongoing worry in advance of Poland.

“James injuries have not happened with us, he’s played once for us in the last year. He played out in Georgia and for Everton to start talking about injuries being a cumulative thing because he plays for Ireland, that’s just not the case,” he said.

“I watched him against Arsenal and he looks fine at the minute. They have a very tough schedule between now and the squad meeting up. I assume that he and Seamus will be heavily involved.”

O’Neill had positive news about three other injury concerns. Shane Long is fully fit, Aiden McGeady is close and Robbie Brady has not ruled himself out of the Poland game yet.

“I spoke to Aiden six or seven days ago. He’s still sore when he’s kicking a ball which might be a slight concern at the moment. Robbie Brady desperately wants to play but he has a calf injury. I will give him every opportunity.”

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