Football/Soccer

David McGoldrick couldn't be talked out of retirement: Stephen Kenny

Republic of Ireland's James Collins (second left) has been recalled to the senior squad having hit five goals for Luton Town this season

REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny revealed that David McGoldrick told him he would retire from international football at the end of the Euro 2021 qualifying campaign – but hoped the striker would have a change of heart.

The 32-year-old Sheffield United man announced on Wednesday he was stepping away from the international scene after just 14 caps.

Prior to last month’s Slovakia game, Kenny had given the impression McGoldrick was in it for the long haul with Ireland perhaps in a bid to convince him to stay beyond the Euro qualifiers.

"I spoke to him and he was very enthusiastic,” Kenny told reporters via Zoom yesterday.

“He said that he was set on retiring at the end of the campaign but I spoke to him and was hopeful that he would play on.

"He's a really good player and a terrific guy.

“This came late for him in his career, he has 14 caps and only in the last two years has become a Premier League player. And he only became a regular international in the last year. He has made his decision for a lot of different reasons. Some are private and you have to respect them."

Luton striker James Collins (29), capped four times, has been recalled to the Irish squad after winning favour in the latter stages of Mick McCarthy’s second reign but there is no place in Kenny's 26-man squad for Shane Long or Sean Maguire.

The strike pair have had little or no game-time at Southampton and Preston NE, respectively, which helps explain why Collins has been promoted ahead of them having hit five goals for Luton in the Championship already this season.

Stressing Long was on stand-by for this month’s games against England (friendly), Wales and Bulgaria (Nations League), Kenny said: “The problem is that Shane has not played a match of any description except for us.

“He has not played a match this year at all for Southampton between lockdown and the end of the season. Even in the Carabao Cup, the manager kept his first team, so he has not been able to play. He has just not played any football.”

Indeed, game-time has been the enemy for a host of players named in yesterday’s Republic squad.

“Players are finding it hard to get game-time. We have to accept that. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not good players. It just means some of the squads are very big and there’s a lot of quality in a lot of the squads.

“Callum O’Dowda wasn’t getting in at Bristol City, they play 3-5-2, he’s a winger. Where does he fit in? So he’s been playing in midfield the last few matches.

“Callum Robinson [West Bromwich Albion] got two against Chelsea and then found himself out of the team. Jayson Molumby [Brighton] went from playing against Manchester United and doing well to not featuring. Obviously Harry Arter had an injury, James McCarthy had an injury and that’s why they weren’t playing. That goes for a lot of the players.

“James McClean hadn’t been playing, now he’s got in in recent weeks and got a couple of goals.”

Everton's Seamus Coleman returns to the fold after injury kept him out of last month's round of international fixtures.

Republic squad:

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth).

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Shane Duffy (Celtic, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Dara O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion).

Midfielders: Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), James McCarthy (Crystal Palace), Harry Arter (Nottingham Forest), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jayson Molumby (Brighton and Hove Albion), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers).

Forwards: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Adam Idah (Norwich City), James Collins (Luton Town), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers).

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Football/Soccer