With Martin O’Neill’s blessing, David Forde has pulled out of the Irish squad to concentrate on his commitments with Portsmouth following the goalkeeper’s loan move from Millwall.
O’Neill has once again turned to Dundalk’s Gary Rogers to provide the back-up to Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood.
Rogers has tweeted his delight at his call-up though it will make for a hectic club and country schedule for the keeper. Dundalk play Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday night, and Rogers would then have to fly to Belgrade on international duty the following day. The Irish squad is due to return from Serbia in the middle of Monday night/Tuesday morning — and the Lilywhites have another match, away to Sligo Rovers, on Tuesday night.
Neither Seamus Coleman nor James McCarthy will feature against Oman tonight, as they continue to nurse ankle and groin injuries, respectively. Defender John O’Shea joins up with the squad today after staying on at Sunderland for treatment on his hip.
Yesterday, O’Neill revealed he had urged 35-year-old O’Shea not to follow Keane and Shay Given into international retirement after Euro 2016. O’Neill also said he had invited Given in for tonight’s game as a tribute to the keeper’s own outstanding Irish career. “Shay doesn’t want to steal anyone’s limelight but I would like him to come over because he has been as important as anybody,” said the manager.
One final item of business yesterday was O’Neill confirming that, finally, he’s ready to sign off on his new contract as Ireland manager. Well, almost.
“We are there, it’s about to be signed,” he declared, before adding with a smile, and almost under his breath, “in the next year-and-a-half. No, it’s close, honestly.”
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