The 33-year-old hasn’t featured in a competitive fixture under Martin O’Neill in over two years when he rung the changes for a cakewalk over Gibraltar in Dublin, but his recent success in the Major Soccer League suggests there’s plenty left to contribute by the Wexford man.
As the Irish squad landed in Austria, with fears easing over knocks to James McClean and John O’Shea, Doyle expressed his desire to be part of the action against one of Ireland’s main qualification rivals in Group D.
His last opportunity of impressing O’Neill and Roy Keane came to a premature end back in March when a promising start in the friendly against Switzerland nosedived, as Doyle had to be taken off by stretcher with a deep gash on his ankle.
Only last weekend, however, the former Reading and Wolves man showed the managerial duo what he can offer by featuring prominently for his club Colorado Rapids in their play-off victory over LA Galaxy. When the tie went to a penalty shoot-out, Doyle converted his and Robbie Keane didn’t get to take the last spot-kick, as Galaxy were already out. Progressing to the Western Conference finals was a fillip ahead of linking up with the international squad, given he thought his career in the Ireland jersey may have finished.
“Yeah, I was fearful,” he admitted in relation to his spell as an Ireland player. “I’m at that age now where you just don’t know when, especially with your international career, how much longer it is going to last, so, you just try to take every call-up and every game as it comes.
“When I got injured, that certainly crossed my mind. I didn’t want being carried off the pitch to be the last time that I would be involved with Ireland.
“I don’t know if I will get on the pitch [against Austria], but it was a bit of motivation for that experience to not be my last involvement with Ireland.
“I just want to try to stay involved as long as I can. When you are a player you just try to stay fit and healthy and in form. I’m not making targets or anything like that. I just want to stay in the team at club level and if I get picked [for Ireland], then brilliant.
“At the moment, it’s just nice to be back. When you come back in, it’s nearly always the same faces, so it seems like you can slot straight back in. The last time that I was involved was in March, which was eight months ago, but it doesn’t feel like that.
“It’s a great squad, that makes everyone feel very welcome, and it’s nice to see some new faces with the League of Ireland lads, Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan.”
Shots at silverware are scarce for most of the Irish squad, so being in contention to win the MLS Cup, like his former strike partner Keane did, is an enormous motivation in the twilight of his career.
“It’s a bit like the Championship in England, in that one team might not be great one season and then challenging up the top in the next,” he explained about the Rapids.
“We’ve made some good signings in the off-season in Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, and Shkelzen Gashi. The target this year was to make the play-offs and we’ve obviously cruised that by finishing in second position and we’re still going.
“Sounders will be difficult opposition in the final, but I’d love to win MLS Cup, of course. It would give me a lot of satisfaction, because I am in America 18 months now and the turnaround that we’ve had.”
Meanwhile, Leeds United midfielder Eunan O’Kane has withdrawn from the Ireland squad with a groin strain.