Martin O'Neill insists Michael Duffy has 'got a chance' of Ireland call-up
REPUBLIC of Ireland boss, Martin O'Neill insists Michael Duffy has 'got a chance' of receiving a senior international call-up in the near future, describing the Derry man as one of the most skilful players in the League of Ireland.
The former Derry City winger, who starred in Dundalk's FAI Cup victory at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, has been one of the stand-out performers in the League of Ireland this season.
And the former Northern Ireland U21 international, who earlier declared for the Republic, was given assurances by O'Neill that he would be considered for the upcoming international friendly against Northern Ireland on November 15th and the UEFA Nations League match against Denmark on November 19th.
O'Neill named his 36 man provisional squad for those fixtures today but Duffy missed out as the FAI are awaiting his international transfer papers.
However the Ireland boss suggested the Galliagh man would be given his chance once the paperwork is completed and processed.
"Young Duffy is as skilful as any player you are likely to see playing in the League of Ireland - really good ability," said O'Neill. "So it would be nice to see the paperwork coming through and incorporating him.
"I just didn't ask him if he would fancy coming over," he added. "Hopefully he can do it and I think he's got a chance."
"He's chosen to play for us which I think is great and I think he is an exceptionally talented player."
Former Derry City frontman, Ronan Curtis has once again been named in the provisional squad for the double-header alongside Stoke City's James McClean and Brighton's Shane Duffy, which will be confirmed on Monday next.
The Ireland gaffer has also opted for some fresh faces with the inclusion of Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, Jimmy Dunne (Hearts), Ryan Manning (Rotherham United) and Michael Obafemi (Southampton).
There has been calls for Dundalk stars, Patrick McEleney - who netted the winning goal in Sunday's showpiece - and record goalscorer, Pat Hoban to get a chance at international level.
And when quizzed on the absence of League of Ireland based players in the squad and the prospects of including ex-Derry City and Oldham midfielder, McEleney, O'Neill defended his willingness to select Irish players plying their trade at home. However, he said he can't continually call up League of Ireland players as he needs a squad operating at a high standard.
"Some players have to do a little but more," insisted the Ireland boss. "The highest level is playing in the Premier League or La Liga or the Bundesliga or Serie A - those are the leagues and then the lower leagues below them. So players still have a lot of work to do..
"Just because a player does alright in some game it doesn't mean they're an international player regardless of what people say - that's my view.
"I think I've done more than any other Irish international manager," claimed the Co. Derry man. "I think I've incorporated the League of Ireland very, very strongly. I've brought players through."
Former Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Burke is the only domestic player to have made it onto the pitch in the O'Neill era, ending an 11-year league wait for a cap against France and bridging a 40-year scoring gap against the USA in June.
"Young (Graham) Burke was the first one in about 30 odd years that actually participated and scored a goal. And on the strength of that he got a move to Preston and got back in again. He was playing for Shamrock Rovers at the end of the day so he's gone there and so now it's up to him.
"But I'm not an agent for all these particular players - that's not my job. My job is to be impressed by players. I think players have gone over to England and for one reason or another have not come through.
"And it's not that they haven't come through in the Premier League, they haven't come through in some of the lower levels so then you have to ask the question, 'what is it?' Is it something in their makeup? Did they not get on with their manager? It could be a combination of all of those particular things.
"When someone goes over early and then comes back quickly it's not the perfect recipe for an international football (team) trying to win games.
"So I do incorporate players from the League of Ireland. I go to a lot of matches as well and see a lot of games. Sometimes, as in the case with young (Sean) Maguire when I saw him last year playing for Cork, he didn't play all that well in the game. So I can only go on certain things. I have to take other things into consideration as I normally do with watching players but sometime I have to have a look.
"It's nice to see him doing well and he's got a bit of something which you can feel he has. But then you have to step up. So that is the case with a lot of players here."
Republic of Ireland Provisional Squad: Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Colin Doyle (Hearts), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Sean McDermott (Kristiansund BK)Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Jimmy Dunne (Hearts*), John Egan, Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Cardiff City)
Midfielders: Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Harry Arter (Cardiff City*), Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa), David Meyler (Reading), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), Richie Towell, Ryan Manning (Rotherham United*), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City)
Forwards: Shane Long, Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson (Preston North End), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth)