Football

Reading's Liam Kelly Rejects Ireland In Hope Of England Call-Up

Reading's Liam Kelly Rejects Ireland In Hope Of England Call-Up

Reading midfielder Liam Kelly turned a chance to be part of the Ireland training camp for Friday's game against Turkey in Antalya according to Martin O'Neill.

The 22-year-old was earlier this month named in the 30-man provisional squad for the game. Over the weekend, he was one of six players to be excluded along with Rob Elliot and Keiren Westwood, both due to injury, and John Egan, Harry Arter and Greg Cunningham.

"He had not returned a lot of calls. I did actually leave a message or two and he got back by text," O'Neill is quoted as saying by The Irish Sun's Neil O'Riordan.

I think he is wanting to keep his options open at this minute. Obviously he was born in England. That’s fine.

You would presume a player who doesn't return O'Neill's calls only to then respond through the far less personal medium of a text message would take a drop in terms of respect from the manager.

The diminutive midfielder made his breakthrough into the Reading first team last season. He has again been a regular in Jaap Stam's team this season.

Kelly, who qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandparents from Leitrim and Mayo, has represented Ireland at under-19 and under-21 levels.

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"I’m not concerned, it’s the player’s choice and if he wants to think that England might come in that’s entirely his decision," said O'Neill.

The Ireland manager added that he thought Kelly would be willing to accept the call-up as he had spoken to the player's agent a "considerable time ago".

In more positive news for O'Neill, Declan Rice - who is likely to win his first cap for Ireland on Friday - cemented thoughts that his international allegiance lies with Ireland while speaking to the media over the weekend at the FAI International Awards.

Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

See Also: Ireland's Declan Rice Is 'Good Friends' With John Terry

PJ Browne
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