John O’Shea focusing on Ireland’s next two games as speculation over job remains

Ireland have still not found a permanent successor to Stephen Kenny.

John O’Shea has filled in for Ireland
John O’Shea has filled in for Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

John O’Shea admitted he has been given no further assurances regarding his chances of getting the Republic of Ireland job on a permanent basis as he prepares for next month’s friendlies against Hungary and Portugal.

O’Shea’s former international team-mate Damian Duff this week told the Second Captains podcast that the ex-defender had been “hung out to dry” by the Football Association of Ireland, having been asked to serve as interim head coach for a second time as the wait for a permanent successor to Stephen Kenny dragged on.

As he named his 26-strong squad for the two friendlies, former Manchester United player O’Shea said Duff was “entitled to his opinion” but said he did not agree and that his only focus was on ensuring the Republic could field a competitive side against two nations bound for Euro 2024.

“The guarantee I’ve been given is I’m in charge for the Hungary and Portugal games,” O’Shea said.

Republic of Ireland have yet to replace Stephen Kenny
Republic of Ireland have yet to replace Stephen Kenny (Niall Carson/PA)

“That’s what I’m fully focused on and what the staff are fully focused on for the next two weeks, to hopefully get a couple of wins.

“First and foremost we’re focused on Hungary which will be a tough test but one we’re hoping to get a good result from at the Aviva.”

The FAI’s interim chief executive David Courell said last week that O’Shea was still in the running for the job, and some good results – the Republic host Hungary on June 4 before travelling to Aveiro to face Portugal on June 11 – would certainly help.

“Good results will always strengthen your hand for anything,” O’Shea said.

“It’s a results business so they’re very important. Hopefully we can put on a good performance.”

O’Shea also said that FAI director of football Marc Canham was due to be at the upcoming training camp, with several players having expressed frustration about the ongoing uncertainty around the managerial position.

He said: “Mark will be in the camp like he was the last time for nearly all of the days we were in, so I’m sure if he feels the need (he will) speak to some of the more senior lads, and as well if any of the lads have any issues they’ll come and talk to me as well, hopefully.”

O’Shea’s squad included Leicester’s 21-year-old striker Tom Cannon, who had taken time to consider interest from England after making his under-21 debut in a friendly last year, but now has his first senior call-up for the Republic.

“I spoke to Tom a couple of times,” O’Shea said.

“I tried to get him in for the March window if possible. Seeing Tom with the under-21s, I know what a talent he is, what type of striker he is.

Tom Cannon has yet to play for Ireland at senior level
Tom Cannon has yet to play for Ireland at senior level (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“I spoke to him and his agent as well and said ‘take your time, and when you are ready just get back in touch with me’. Thankfully they did and we were able to have another conversation.

“He was with his family when I spoke to him and they were very proud and very happy to be committing to the Republic of Ireland.”

However, Cannon’s team-mate Kasey McAteer is absent after an injury-disrupted campaign.

Liam Scales and Enda Stevens are back in the group along with Troy Parrott, but Alan Browne misses out.

Fleetwood stopper David Harrington has his first call-up, part of a goalkeeping group that also includes Bristol City’s Max O’Leary, with Gavin Bazunu among those absent through injury.

Also missing are John Egan, Evan Ferguson and Nathan Collins, while Chiedozie Ogbene is unavailable for family reasons.