Richard Barrett reporting from Ireland training at FAI HQ
It remains unclear whether Michael Obafemi will make his Republic of Ireland senior debut against Northern Ireland, manager Martin O’Neill confirmed on Monday.
Speaking at Republic of Ireland training in Abbotstown, the Republic of Ireland boss said:
“He could play with (Nigeria or England). He has decisions to make for his future. He would need to discuss this with his family. There’s no real pressure for him to make that decision in the next couple of days.
“It would be the player and family’s decision. The last thing you would want is to put him in there if he is uncomfortable. He has decisions to make and I understand that. I will have a discussion with him and members of his family too.”
After the disappointing episodes of exclusion experienced from both the Jack Grealish and Declan Rice sagas, O’Neill’s recent selections suggest that he is looking to reward younger players with call-ups to the senior squad. When quizzed whether this was a direct result of the aforementioned disappointments, O’Neill was coy.
“If a player has multiple choices and that’s the case, and we consider him. It’s certainly worth fighting for. I think if you win one or two, those rules are alright. If you lose one or two, and it keeps arising then it’s something you have to give a little more thought to. ”
Speaking of Declan Rice, O’Neill reaffirmed his stance that he remains hopeful about his decision.
“I’ve always been hopeful but never anything more than that. It’s very much down to the player. I think the (Times) interview might have been at the spur of the moment. He’s definitely conflicted.”
Ireland host Northern Ireland on Thursday at the Aviva Stadium (K.O. 19:45).