Joey O’Brien has admitted he could turn his back on the Republic of Ireland after failing to force his way into manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s plans.
The 22-year-old Dubliner is yet to make an appearance for his country under the Italian, and has hinted he may follow Manchester City counterpart Stephen Ireland into self-imposed exile.
O’Brien told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I love playing for my country, love meeting up and I have great friends.
“But I don’t like walking around in a track suit saying: ’I play for Ireland’. I’m like a fan in a tracksuit. I’m gutted about the whole thing. The manager is the manager and he’s a great manager, but I’m not in his plans.”
O’Brien’s fears were brought into sharper focus earlier this month when he could not force his way into the side for the World Cup qualifier against Cyprus at either right-back or central midfield despite an injury crisis.
O'Brien, who plays for Bolton said: “When you look at the team that played against Cyprus, it proved to me how far down the list I was in the dressing room.
“Look at the right-back or centre midfield positions where I play – we were missing the first and second choice right-backs in Steve Finnan and Stephen Kelly, and there was even a lad on the bench ahead of me. In the middle, I must be about fifth choice.
“From a personal point of view, I am looking at the manager and I don’t know if he comes to watch the games I play or what. You don’t know how far you are down the list, and that makes it hard.”
Trapattoni, who has tried to persuade Ireland to return to the fold, has very definite ideas about how he wants his team to play and the players he needs to achieve that, and has sparked a national debate over his decision not to include Andy Reid in his midfield.
Stoke’s Glenn Whelan and Manchester United youngster Darron Gibson got the nod against Cyprus, and that has left O’Brien considering his options.
He said: “Of course I’m having a look at myself. There’s no point in going over there, training twice a day for a few days just to sit in the stand like a fan.
“Apart from the last couple of weeks with Bolton, I’ve never been dropped unless I had injuries. I’m used to playing in the Premiership and the UEFA Cup, so to go over and play and train under a management where it seems they don’t know your name...I’m definitely going to have to look at the situation.
“It’s a bit away from walking out completely, but I’m not going to keep going if I’m sitting in the stand.
“It’s a problem here (at Bolton) too. When I report back on Thursday having missed a whole week training, the lads in my position are training day in, day out.”