Saturday 25 November 2017

Pardew paves way for possible Delaney return to Irish fold

Tottenham 0 Crystal Palace 1

Damien Delaney
Damien Delaney
Alan Pardew

The clamour for a return to international football for Damien Delaney will only intensify after another very good weekend for the Cork-born defender who has helped Crystal Palace move into the last eight of the FA Cup at the expense of Tottenham.

And his club manager has had his take on Delaney's self-imposed exile from the Ireland squad as Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew has joined the debate, stating that the 34-year-old was ready to "swallow his pride and do the right thing" by trying to engineer a return to the Ireland fold.

Delaney underlined his value to Palace - and his potential value to the national side - with another good display for the Eagles in yesterday's 1-0 win over Tottenham, and there was more positive news for the Eagles with the quarter-final draw which saw them avoid top-flight opposition as they were paired with Reading. "We did really well and that was more like us yesterday," said Pardew after the win over Spurs, secured with Martin Kelly's goal.

"When we got the goal just before half-time, great timing for us, I felt there was only one team going to win it. And we could still have the best season we've ever had in the Premier League, we finished 10th last season but we can better that and we are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup."

The Ireland management team were not on hand to watch Delaney - Martin O'Neill is on holidays until tomorrow while Roy Keane took in the Blackburn-West Ham Cup tie yesterday.

In fairness to them, there's been little reason to watch Palace this season as Delaney effectively retired from international football last August, the veteran frustrated with the lack of game time at international level.

But boss Pardew, speaking before yesterday's game, hinted that Delaney was eager to re-establish contact with the FAI and seek a return to the squad. "I think he would," Pardew said when asked if Delaney could come back to the Irish fold. "I think he is big enough and bold enough to swallow his pride and do the right thing."

John O'Shea and Richard Keogh are the men in possession at centre half but an in-form Delaney would offer O'Neill more options for Euro 2016.

Delaney has been capped just nine times at senior level, has only made one competitive appearance for the Republic (under caretaker Noel King) and was capped just once by Martin O'Neill.

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